Ensuring fair and free 2019 EU elections

EU Member States test their cybersecurity preparedness

Photo: EU Andrus Ansip

An exercise to test the EU's response to potential cybersecurity incidents affecting the EU elections was organised yesterday, 5 April, by the European Parliament, the EU member countries, the Commission and the EU Agency for cybersecurity (ENISA). The objective of the exercise, which took place in the EP, was to test how effective EU Member States and the EU's response practices and crisis plans are and to identify ways to prevent, detect and mitigate cybersecurity incidents that may affect the upcoming EU elections.

This exercise is part of the measures being implemented by the European Union to ensure free and fair elections in May 2019.

We must protect our free and fair elections, this is the cornerstone of our democracy, EC Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said adding that to secure the democratic processes from manipulation or malicious cyber activities by private interests or third countries, the European Commission proposed in September 2018 a set of actions. “Together with the EU Member States, and other EU Institutions we are implementing these actions. We also decided to test our cybersecurity vigilance and readiness towards secure, fair and free EU elections 2019 by organising the first in its kind EU exercise on elections. I believe that this is an important step forward for more resilient EU elections in a connected society”, he stressed.

A cyber-attack on elections could dramatically undermine the legitimacy of our institutions, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Rainer Wieland, pointed out. With the upcoming European elections in 2019, we have to take responsibility and build up the necessary means to strengthen our electoral cyber security and the responsibility is a common one, shared by European and Member State institutions, he stressed.

 More than 80 representatives from EU Member States, together with observers from the European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU Agency for cybersecurity, participated in this first EU table-top exercise (with the code name EU ELEx19) on the resilience of the upcoming European Parliament elections. The main responsibility for protecting the integrity of the elections lies with the Member States, and the overall objective of the exercise was to test and further strengthen their preparedness - especially their election and cybersecurity authorities – in the face of hybrid cyber-enabled threats, and to assess their ability to swiftly develop and maintain situational awareness at national and EU level if a serious cybersecurity incident which could impact on the integrity of the 2019 EU elections were to occur.

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