Strengthening EU-wide cybersecurity and resilience – Council agrees its position

Strengthening EU-wide cybersecurity and resilience – Council agrees its position

 F.P. Report

BRUSSELS: The EU is constantly working to build resilience to ever-increasing cyber threats, and to keep our digital society and economy safe and secure.

Today, the Council agreed on its position (‘general approach’) on measures for a high common level of cybersecurity across the EU, to further improve the resilience and incident response capacities of both the public and private sector and the EU as a whole.

Once adopted, the new directive, called ‘NIS2’, will replace the current directive on security of network and information systems (the NIS directive).

“We have seen a rapid increase in the number of cyberattacks on the public and private sector and on our citizens, and the significant impact which these attacks have on our society, not least because we live in an increasingly digitalised world. The stakes are high, and the new NIS directive will play a very important role in strengthening our cybersecurity. It will also show that Europe is a leader in legislation on cybersecurity.”

Stronger risk and incident management and cooperation

NIS2 will set the baseline for cybersecurity risk management measures and reporting obligations across all sectors that are covered by the directive, such as energy, transport, health and digital infrastructure.

The revised directive aims to remove divergences in cybersecurity requirements and in implementation of cybersecurity measures in different member states. To achieve this, it sets out minimum rules for a regulatory framework and lays down mechanisms for effective cooperation among relevant authorities in each member state. It updates the list of sectors and activities subject to cybersecurity obligations, and provides for remedies and sanctions to ensure enforcement.

The directive will formally establish the European Cyber Crises Liaison Organisation Network, EU-CyCLONe, which will support the coordinated management of large-scale cybersecurity incidents.

Wider scope of the rules as amended by the Council

While under the old NIS directive member states were responsible for determining which entities would meet the criteria to qualify as operators of essential services, the new NIS2 directive introduces a size-cap rule. This means that all medium-sized and large entities operating within the sectors or providing services covered by the directive will fall within its scope.

While the Council’s position maintains this general rule, it includes additional provisions to ensure proportionality, a higher level of risk management and clear-cut criticality criteria for determining the entities covered.

The Council text also clarifies that the directive will not apply to entities carrying out activities in areas such as defence or national security, public security, law enforcement and the judiciary. Parliaments and central banks are also excluded from the scope.

As public administrations are also often targets of cyberattacks, NIS2 will apply to public administration entities of central governments. In addition, member states may decide that it applies to such entities at regional and local level too.

Other changes introduced by the Council

The Council has aligned the text with sector-specific legislation, in particular the regulation on digital operational resilience for the financial sector (DORA) and the directive on the resilience of critical entities (CER), to provide legal clarity and ensure coherence between NIS2 and these acts.

A voluntary peer-learning mechanism will increase mutual trust and learning from good practices and experiences, thereby contributing to achieving a high common level of cybersecurity.

It has also streamlined the reporting obligations in order to avoid causing over-reporting and creating an excessive burden on the entities covered.

Member states would have two years from the entry into force of the directive in which to incorporate the provisions into their national law.

Next steps

The general approach reached today will allow the Council presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and the European Parliament will need to agree on the final text.

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