EU to spend far less for infrastructure protection

A top European Union official is proposing a $165 million (?140 million) critical infrastructure protection budget for Europe for 2007 through 2013 ? a sum that is only a fraction of what the U.S. plans to spend.

"We don't need to spend a lot of money," said Magnus Ovilius, senior administrator at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security, according to Euroactiv, the EU's media portal.

Ovilius pegged U.S. spending on critical infrastructure protection at $62 billion over five years, but he said Europe may take a different approach that is less costly.

"Responsibility for managing risk will lie primarily with the owners and operators," Ovilius said. "Bureaucrats in Brussels don't need to dictate what should be done on the ground. We shall apply the principle of subsidiarity."

EU officials met last week in Brussels to discuss approaches to safeguarding critical infrastructure against terrorism.

Ovilius said the EU should limit itself to installations with a cross-border effect, for example, power plants located near borders. A list of such facilities would form the foundation of the EU's critical infrastructure plan, which is expected to be developed by year's end.

Ian Abbot, director of policy and plans for the EU military staff, wants to include energy, health, water, sanitation and telecommunications as critical infrastructure areas.

In cybersecurity, the EU's Critical Information Infrastructure Research Coordination project aims to identify research programs focused on IT security for telecommunications networks, power grids and other cybernetworks. Eventually, the project aims to include the United States, Canada, Australia and Russia, according to Euractiv.

EU officials released a policy document in 2004 pertaining to the union's role in critical infrastructure protection. This year, the EU is establishing a Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network, which would share information among member-state governments about shared threats and vulnerabilities, modeled after a similar network in the United States.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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