The European Commission has published proposed legislation to strengthen information-sharing on critical infrastructure protection between EU Member States.

The proposed legislation is designed to create a Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN) to help protect vital IT networks across Europe.

The aim is to help EU countries exchange good practices and information on shared threats, vulnerabilities and activities to protect critical infrastructure, such as for example in the transport and energy sectors.

Under the proposed legislation a secure information technology system would be established. This would be managed by the Commission and hosted by the Joint Research Centre in Ispra – CIWIN.

Vice president of the Commission Jacques Barrot said: "This proposal represents one of the cornerstones of the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection and an important step forward in creating a functioning Critical Infrastructure Protection Community in the European Union."

CIWIN will be established as a voluntary information technology tool to contain and transmit sensitive information.

The system will serve as a secure forum for the exchange of information, with strong emphasis on the exchange of best practices, dialogue and the building of trust at EU level.

Crucially the system will also provide a rapid alert system for critical infrastructure that enables EU Countries and the Commission to post alerts on immediate risks and threats.

Under the proposed legislation Member States will be free to use the entire system, to choose between the functions offered, or not to use the system at all. Their participation to the system will be conditional upon the signature of an agreement with the Commission.

According to the Commission critical infrastructure protection in the European Union is currently subject to a mosaic of protective measures and obligations. CIWIN is intended to stimulate exchanges of good practices in the EU, help avoiding duplication of activities, and become a vehicle for the secure transmission of immediate threats and alerts.