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EU News Report : 08-10-2003

New European Agency for Network and Information Security

The Industry Committee on Tuesday approved with amendments a proposal to set up a European Network and Information Security Agency for the purpose of helping prevent problems such as computer crashes, IT network failures, viruses and unauthorised interception of communications. The amendments, in a first-reading report by Reino PAASILINNA (PES, FIN), focus on the tasks of the new agency, the composition of the advisory and management boards and the initial evaluation of the Agency’s work.

The broad objective of the Agency is to create a common approach in Europe to network and information security, assist in the application of Community measures in this field and enhance the capability of the EU and Member States to respond to problems. Its budget is €24.3 million and for the first time the Commission is proposing to set up an agency for a limited period (from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2008). The proposal provides for the gradual recruitment of staff, while the seat of the Agency is to be decided at the latest six months after the regulation is adopted.

The Industry Committee states in its amendments that the new agency should ensure that security solutions are easily accessible to small and medium-sized companies. It should provide advice to the Commission, Parliament, competent national and European bodies and the business community. And it should invite tenders for research in the area of network and information security.

The agency will be run by a management board, made up of five representatives appointed by the Council, five by the Commission, two by the European Parliament as well as four industry and two consumers' representatives. MEPs want the management board to be approved, before 31 January each year, by both the Commission and the European Parliament. They add that the Agency’s advisory board of nine experts should include representatives from industry, consumer associations and the science and research sector in the area of network and information security.

The committee also stresses that when the time comes, Parliament and the Council should have a say in whether the Agency's life-span is extended beyond 2008, rather than leaving this to the Commission.

Source: European Communities