Tightening cooperation to counter cyber-attacks
It is not possible for any state to tackle the threats alone, MEPs say
Maria Koleva, Brussels
16 May, 2018Cyber-attacks on civilians and military targets are increasing and the EU countries have to cooperate more closely to counter the threats. This said MEPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence in a non-legislative resolution, backed by 45 votes to 8, with 8 abstentions, on 16 May.The lawmakers stressed that Europe's armed forces cyber-defence has become one of the critical issues in debates about defence modernisation and Europe's common defence efforts. The text, authored by Urmas Paet (ALDE, EE), says that different state actors, such as Russia, China and North Korea, among others, “have been involved in malicious cyber activities in pursuit of political, economic or security objectives that include attacks on critical infrastructure, cyber-espionage, disinformation campaigns and limiting access to the internet”. Lawmakers conceded that fragmented European defence strategies and capabilities have contributed to the current vulnerability to cyber-attacks. They insisted that EU countries need “to improve their armed forces ability to work together and to strengthen cyber cooperation at European level”. This includes to keep closer links with NATO and other partners through situational awareness, cyber exercises, Military Erasmus - an exchange programme between Member States for future military officers, their teachers and instructors, and other joint training and exchange activities. They pointed that the recently launched framework for a joint EU diplomatic response to malicious cyber activities, the EU cyber diplomacy toolbox, aimed at developing the EU's and Member States' capacities in order to influence the behaviour of potential aggressors, foresees the use of proportionate measures within the CFSP, including restrictive measures.As the rapporteur Urmas Paet explained, cyber-defence remains a core competence of the Member States, but due to the borderless nature of cyberspace, it is not possible for any one state to tackle the threats and challenges alone. The EU needs to strengthen its cyber-defence capabilities by boosting cooperation between Member States, the EU and NATO. We also need to train more experts in cyber-defence and organise joint exercises, he accentuated.The EP members put their finger on issues such as the permanent scarcity of highly qualified experts in cyber forensics. They urged Member States “to invest more in this field and facilitate cooperation between civil academic institutions and military academies, supporting the field of cyber-defence education”. The lawmakers also commended the two cyber projects on information-sharing platform for cyber incidents and cyber rapid-response teams that will be kicked off within the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). They voiced as well their intention on the creation of a European cyber rapid-response team, which would coordinate, detect and counter collective cyber threats.