EU infrastructure a ‘target’ says EU Chief

According to Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday, the European Union’s energy infrastructure has become a target for the first time in recent history. To stop acts of sabotage, the union needs to stress-test vital equipment and utilise its surveillance satellites more effectively.

“The acts of sabotage against Nordstream pipelines have shown how vulnerable our energy infrastructure is. For the first time in recent history, it has become a target,” said the Commission chief to the plenary of the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

The two Nord Stream pipelines that cross the Baltic Sea to connect Germany and Russia were found to have four leaks last week. While an investigation is currently underway, Western governments claim that they were most likely the product of intentional acts of sabotage. Sweden and Denmark wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council that seismological institutions had detected “at least two detonations”

Pipelines and underwater cables were referred to by Von der Leyen as “the lifelines of data and energy” for people and businesses in Europe. She added that it was “in the interest of all Europeans to better protect this critical infrastructure.”

The EU is now revising its 2008 critical infrastructure regulation to include 11 risk areas, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, insider threats, and sabotage, as well as public health catastrophes like the most recent COVID-19 epidemic.

Despite the fact that the new law is still awaiting MEP approval, von der Leyen said on Wednesday that “we can and should already now be working on this basis.” The new law is anticipated to go into effect in 2024.

She added that the bloc must “stress test” all of its infrastructures, starting with those connected to energy supply and moving on to “other high-risk sectors” such as offshore digital and electrical infrastructure.

“We don’t have to wait till something happens but we need to make sure that we’re prepared and therefore we need those stress tests. We need to identify whether we have weak points and where these weak points are and, of course, we have to prepare our reaction to sudden disruptions. What are we doing then? Are all the information chains in place? Is everybody informed? Does this emergency scenario really work then in our Single Market?,” she told MEPs.

Finally, she requested that the bloc “make the best use of our satellite surveillance capacity”. “We have these satellites in place, we have the capacity to do the surveillance to detect potential threats so this is also a matter of prevention and awareness,” she said. 

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