The European Union’s General Affairs Council recently approved plans to establish a pan-European agency to manage the union’s large-scale IT systems. The new agency will be responsible for the operational management of a vast amount of sensitive data including the second-generation common database which facilitates the exchange of information on individuals between national law enforcement authorities, a database that will allow member states to enter, update and consult visa data, including biometric data, electronically, and an IT system for comparing the fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
The new agency will also be responsible for the management of other IT systems that might be developed in the future. However, any integration of further systems will require a specific decision by the European Council and the European Parliament.
Officials consider security a top priority given the sensitivity of the information, large amounts of the aggregated data can create a target for cybercriminals.
Earlier this year, an attack on the European Commission disrupted email systems, while an attack on the E.U.’s Emissions Trading Scheme saw at least €30 million (US$41 million) of emissions allowances stolen from national registries.
The agency is to start working in 2012; the head office will be in Tallin, Estonia, with development and operational management carried out in Strasbourg, France.