Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and criminal activity can all disrupt the critical energy infrastructure that Europeans depend on.
While national authorities are primarily responsible for the protection of energy facilities such as power plants and transmission lines, energy disruptions can be felt across national borders. A Europe-wide approach to help manage the risks across the EU is therefore needed.
Programme for European Critical Infrastructure
The European Programme for European Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) for energy, transportation, and finance focuses on four main areas:
- creating a procedure to identify and assess Europe's critical infrastructure and learn how to better protect it. This procedure was established for the energy and transport sectors in the Identification and Designation of European Critical Infrastructures Directive
- measures to aid infrastructure protection, including EU-appointed expert groups and the creation of the Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN) – an internet-based communication system for exchanging information, studies, and best practices.
- funding for over 100 critical infrastructure protection projects from 2007 onwards . These projects focused on a variety of issues including national and European information sharing and alerting systems, the development of ways to assess interdependence between electronic and electricity transmission networks, and the creation of a 'good practice' manual for policy makers.
- international cooperation with European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) countries, as well as expert meetings between the EU, USA, and Canada.
The way forward
In 2013, the European Commission evaluated the progress made by EPCIP and suggested that the programme enter a new, more practical phase. This phase involves launching a pilot project analysing four critical European infrastructures that could be vulnerable to threats. These are:
- The EU's electricity transmission grid
- The EU's gas transmission network
- GALILEO – the European programme for global satellite navigation.
Thematic Network on Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection
The Thematic Network on Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection (TNCEIP) for the energy sector allows operators to exchange information on threat assessment, risk management, cyber security, and other related topics.