Eight EU member states have signed a Declaration of Intent to form a European Cyber Rapid Response Force.
Lithuania was the first to propose the initiative to create the cyber-attack response teams, which has now been signed onto by seven member states.
Croatia, Estonia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Spain and Romania will participate in the project which will be led by Lithuania. EU members Germany, Greece, Belgium and Slovenia will act as observers.
Speaking in Luxembourg, Lithuanian Minister for Defence Karoblis Raimundas said: “EU countries have not had the opportunity to address cyber incidents together so far, and in the meanwhile, the attacks are not limited by country borders.”
“Lithuania has taken up the role of leadership in proposing first a practical solution in strengthening collective defence in cyber space and countering threats in a new dimension,” he added.
Need for Defence
Chris Wilber, CTO of Rainmaker Solutions, told Computer Business Review: “Last year’s Wannacry ransomware attack on the NHS was a good example of how the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape can cripple key national infrastructure. Today, in Europe, most markets, including health, have a need for information sharing across borders.”
He went on to add that: “Because of that need, security vulnerabilities are exacerbated due to the fragmented nature of defence strategies and capabilities between national governments.”
“Any move to enhance cooperation and coordination between countries should be applauded. In this case, Europe is stronger together. We must only hope that the ongoing distraction of Brexit isn’t another excuse for the UK failing to support a critically important European initiative.”
Since 2017 there have been 17 projects approved by EU member states under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework. PESCO was brought into the EU statute books during the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, its aim is to advanced cooperation in defence and security between member states.
Pedro Serrano Deputy Secretary General of the EU External Action Service commented in the announcement that: “This is the most advanced PESCO project since its launching point and its participants are showing the real solidarity in collective defence.”
Mr Raimundas provided some insight into what this type of project would look like in practical terms: “Each participant would need to have a standing cyber security unit which could join the neutralisation and investigation in virtual or even in physical reality in the event of a significant cyber incident [sic].”
This is not the first time the EU has announced collaboration plans to tackle cybersecurity issues.
In his 2017 State of the Union speech EU president Jean-Claude Junker stated: “Europe is still not well equipped when it comes to cyber-attacks. This is why, today, the Commission is proposing new tools, including a European Cybersecurity Agency, to help defend us against such attacks.”
The proposal has yet to bear real fruit.