EC proposes a new information-sharing tool at EU level to better protect critical infrastructure

The European Commission proposed on October, 27th, new legislation for the establishment of  a Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN) to strengthen information-sharing on critical infrastructure protection between EU Member States. This proposition follows Commission concern over the development of  the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection.

The proposed legislation sets up a secure information technology system, the Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN), managed by the Commission and hosted by the Joint Research Centre in Ispra. This system will aim  assist EU Member States in exchanging good practices and information on shared threats, vulnerabilities and activities to protect critical infrastructure, such as for example in the transport and energy sectors.

CIWIN will be established as a voluntary information technology tool to contain and transmit sensitive information. The system will have two main functions:

  • A secure forum for the exchange of information, with strong emphasis on the exchange of best practices, dialogue and the building of trust at EU level
  • A rapid alert system for critical infrastructure that enables EU Member States and the Commission to post alerts on immediate risks and threats.

As Vice-President of the Commission Jacques Barrot stated, “this proposal represents one of the cornerstones of the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection and an important step forward in creating a functioning Critical Infrastructure Protection Community in the European Union." Following this concern, a political agreement was already reached on a Commission proposal for a Directive on the identification and designation of European Critical Infrastructure (ECI), at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, held in June.

Member States will be free to use the entire system, to choose between the functions offered, or not to use the system at all. Their participation to the system will be conditional upon the signature of an agreement with the Commission.

As critical infrastructure protection in the European Union is subject to a varying puzzle of protective measures and obligations, CIWIN will offer national administrations and the European Commission an efficient and easy information exchange tool that will contribute to increasing security in the EU and building trust among relevant stakeholders. In other words, the system intends to stimulate exchanges of good practices in the EU, help avoiding duplication of activities, and become a vehicle for the secure transmission of immediate threats and alerts.

CIWIN will ensure that the right people have the right information at the right time and that such information is delivered in a secure manner.

The proposal will now be communicated to the Council and to the European Parliament as part of the consultation legislative procedure.