The EU must do more to protect its critical infrastructure, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday (October 10th), as Germany has not ruled out foreign interference in an act of rail sabotage in the north of the country over the weekend.
“Critical infrastructure is the new frontier of war,” von der Leyen said in a speech in Tallin, Estonia, days after rail transport in northern Germany was shut down by “an act of sabotage “.
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German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said on Monday he could not rule out the involvement of foreign countries in what he called an act of sabotage.
“We have increased vigilance since the start of the war in Ukraine, because we know that infrastructure has become an increased target,” Wissing told German public broadcaster ARD.
Wissing did not name any countries in connection with the sabotage, Bloomberg reported.
Rail traffic in northern Germany was disrupted for hours over the weekend after two separate fiber optic cables were damaged.
The complexity of the operation raised fears that it could have been carried out by a foreign state. German police have opened an investigation.
“We need to protect our critical infrastructure,” von der Leyen said, pointing out that – for example – undersea fiber optic cables carry 99% of global internet traffic.
Von der Leyen spoke about new legislation which should come into force in 2024 and aims to identify and better protect infrastructure deemed critical for the whole of the EU.
The commission plans to do “stress tests” of critical infrastructure to identify weak spots, von der Leyen also said.
The commission is also ready to support EU countries in the event of disruption to critical infrastructure through the Civil Protection Mechanism, which is the EU’s money for disasters.
Von der Leyen said the EU should “make the best use of our satellite surveillance capability to detect potential threats” and strengthen cooperation with NATO on preparedness.
The German rail sabotage came two weeks after several massive leaks damaged the Nord Stream gas pipeline linking Germany and Russia.
In this case, authorities also suspected deliberate sabotage, with some pointing the finger at Russia.
Moscow denied the charges and Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed “Anglo-Saxons” for the damage.
“Acts of sabotage against Nord Stream pipelines have shown how vulnerable our critical infrastructure is,” said von der Leyen, who previously served as German defense minister.
The German government is aware that infrastructure has become a target and, according to Wissing, has shown “increased vigilance since the start of the war in Ukraine”.