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Brussels, 20th November 2003

Commission welcomes agreement of Council and Parliament to set up the European Network and Information Security Agency

Today the Telecom Council reached an agreement to set up the European Network and Information Security Agency ENISA. This has been achieved only nine months after the Commission originally proposed its draft regulation for ENISA. The agreement in Council follows a first reading vote by the European Parliament yesterday, on a compromise text for the regulation prepared by the Council and the European Parliament. As a result, ENISA can start its operations in the beginning of 2004 as was called for in the Spring Council. The prime role of the ENISA will be to support the internal market by facilitating and promoting increased co-operation and information exchange on issues of network and information security.

Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society said of the decision: “Trust and security are crucial components in the information society and by establishing ENISA we continue the work to create the “culture of security” that we set out to build in the eEurope 2005 Action Plan. I'm very pleased that both Parliament and Member States have seen the urgency to get this agency in place and have been able to reach an agreement on the first reading of the proposal. All parties involved in the issues of network and information security have been advocating closer co-operation and the ENISA delivers the infrastructure for this.”

As information flows freely across national borders, so will the network and information security problems. Therefore all countries face essentially the same issues of network and information security, but until today there has been no systematic cross-border co-operation or information exchange between the EU Member States. The individual Member States are at very different stages in their work and have to some extent chosen varying approaches. This is the challenge that the ENISA is set up to meet. The Agency will support the internal market by acting as a centre of knowledge and by assisting the Member States in their efforts to improve security of networks and information systems.

In order to fulfil this mission the ENISA will be given a number of tasks:

  • It will advise Member States and the Commission on security issues and help co-ordinate activities to ensure a high level of network and information security within the Community. This includes analysing information on current and emergent risks in Europe to support EU policy development as well as national initiatives;

  • It will address the need for increased awareness on these issues and help inform citizens, businesses and administrations of the risks involved in using the Internet and information systems and how to protect themselves against the threats;

  • Finally the ENISA will have a number of tasks involving risk assessment and risk management and it will follow the development in research and standardisation efforts in close collaboration with industry.

In general the work of ENISA will be built on a close co-operation with the business community as the private sector owns large parts of the networks and is the developer and user of the systems. The Member States and the Commission will all be represented in the Management board as well as members of industry and other stakeholders. In order to have the desired close involvement of the different stakeholders there will also be a “Permanent Stakeholders Group” to support the Executive Director of the Agency in his work.

Until the Heads of State and Government decide on the permanent seat of the Agency, it will be temporarily based in Brussels.

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