Malta is positioned at the forefront of recent EU initiatives concerning security and resiliency, which includes the extension of the reach of NIS2 and CER Directives to be implemented by the end of the year. The establishment of a secure and resilient submarine cable infrastructure lies at the core of EU strategies, as it serves as a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring secure communications, thereby enhancing the resilience and integration of communication channels. Given that over 99% of intercontinental data traffic is transmitted via submarine cables, Malta assumes a pivotal role in this context, alongside Cyprus and Ireland, as one of the three insular Member States, in addition to various islands within other Member States and outermost regions.

Consequently, the recently published EU white paper on mastering Europe's digital infrastructure needs, along with the draft Commission’s Recommendation on Secure and Resilient Submarine Cable Infrastructures, hold paramount significance. The latter document, apart from providing a definition of submarine cable infrastructures, advocates for synergies at the EU level aimed at bolstering the security and resilience of such infrastructures. It recommends measures to evaluate and enhance coordination between the Union and its Member States concerning the security and resilience of both existing and new submarine cable infrastructures, including those with military significance. Additionally, it advocates for support towards joint deployment or substantial upgrades of such infrastructures through Cable Projects of European Interest (CPEI).

Furthermore, there will be a comprehensive Union-wide assessment of risks, vulnerabilities, and dependencies affecting submarine cables at the national level. This assessment will build upon existing EU-wide risk assessments and evaluations, particularly those conducted following the 'Nevers Call,' as well as the Council Conclusions on the Development of the EU’s Cyber Posture for the cybersecurity of 5G networks. The national assessment may also undergo auditing and certification processes and should encompass a mapping of both existing and planned infrastructures.

Countries such as Malta are urged to reinforce national obligations on suppliers and operators of critical infrastructure components when implementing the NIS2 and CER Directives, as well as relevant actions outlined in the EU Maritime Security Strategy. This entails considering defense-level security standards where applicable, thereby facilitating collaboration with military entities, including NATO.

Disclaimer This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.
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