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IP/07/59

Brussels, 18 January 2007

Is a communications collapse possible in Europe?

The European Commission is seeking feedback on how best to safeguard our electronic networks against disruption from attack or natural hazards. This follows today's public presentation of the findings of a study which identifies a range of important issues for ensuring that our future networks are sufficiently protected and resilient. As the services and processes that they support become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, the consequences of the failure of or criminal attack on a single network or sub-system could potentially be propagated more widely and faster than ever before. Protective measures need to be put in place to ensure that critical services and infrastructure are not vulnerable to such failures, and that there can be no "domino effect" that might otherwise result in a major technological collapse of communications and the many services they support.

"Communication and information infrastructures are the nervous system of our modern society," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "As our dependency on them grows, we need to do all we can to safeguard such networks. I would not like Europe to experience the huge problems Asia faced over the Christmas time as a consequence of an earthquake south of Taiwan. I therefore call on all stakeholders to participate in this consultation so that we can together determine how best to protect ourselves in the future."

The study carried out for the Commission reports on the reliability (against failure) and the robustness (against attack and other hazards) - of electronic communication networks. It provides insights into the overall security of these networks, based on extensive interviews with virtually all types of stakeholder. The study makes 10 recommendations for key actions to be taken by the European Commission, Member States and the private sector to enhance our preparedness, and the protection and resilience of our networks against attack. These include emergency exercises and drills, the establishment of pre-arranged priority restoration procedures, the conclusion of formal mutual aid agreements between operators and service providers, addressing interdependencies between the communications and other critical sectors, enhancing information sharing mechanisms including cross-sector communications, the implementation of innovative trusted concepts, and the use of industry consensus best-practices.

The Commission is now seeking feedback on the recommendations of the study from all interested parties. The study and the results of the consultation launched today will feed in a strategic initiative on resilience and robustness of information and communication networks to be decided by the Commission early 2008.On 19 January, the Commission will hold a first informal exchange of views on the recommendations and issues raised by the study, with Member States. Other people and organisations are invited to send written feedback on the study to infso-a3@ec.europa.eu by the end of April 2007.
The study itself is available at:

http://europa.eu.int/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=3141

Background:

This initiative contributes for the ICT sector to the debate launched under the proposal for a European Programme on Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP), which was adopted by the Commission on 12 December 2006. See:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52006PC0787:EN:NOT
In May 2006, the Commission issued a Communication on a strategy for a secure Information Society – "Dialogue, partnership and empowerment". This proposed an open discussion on the agenda and possible issues for a European initiative on critical communication and information infrastructure protection. The Commission Communication was recently endorsed by the Council in its Resolution of 11 December 2006. See:
http://europa.eu.int/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=2766
http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/06/st15/st15768.en06.pdf


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