European Commission. Cybersecurity Strategy (NIS 2 and Cyber Resilience Act)

The European Union works on various fronts to promote cyber resilience, safeguarding our communication and data and keeping online society and economy secure.

Cybersecurity Strategy

The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy presented a new EU Cybersecurity Strategy at the end of 2020.

The Strategy covers the security of essential services such as hospitals, energy grids and railways. It also covers the security of the ever-increasing number of connected objects in our homes, offices and factories.

The Strategy focuses on building collective capabilities to respond to major cyberattacks and working with partners around the world to ensure international security and stability in cyberspace. It outlines how a Joint Cyber Unit can ensure the most effective response to cyber threats using the collective resources and expertise available to the EU and Member States.

Legislation and certification

Directive on measures for a high common level of cybersecurity across the Union (NIS2 Directive)

Cybersecurity threats are almost always cross-border, and a cyberattack on the critical facilities of one country can affect the EU as a whole. EU countries need to have strong government bodies that supervise cybersecurity in their country and that work together with their counterparts in other Member States by sharing information. This is particularly important for sectors that are critical for our societies.

The Directive on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive), which all countries have now implemented, ensures the creation and cooperation of such government bodies. This Directive was reviewed at the end of 2020.

As a result of the review process, the proposal for a Directive on measures for a high common level of cybersecurity across the Union (NIS2 Directive) was presented by the Commission on 16 December 2020.

The Directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union in December 2022 and entered into force on 16 January 2023. Member states will have 21 months from the entry into force of the directive in which to incorporate the provisions into their national law (actual date: 18 October 2024).

NIS2 Directive

The NIS2 Directive is the EU-wide legislation on cybersecurity. It provides legal measures to boost the overall level of cybersecurity in the EU.

The EU cybersecurity rules introduced in 2016 were updated by the NIS2 Directive that came into force in 2023. It modernised the existing legal framework to keep up with increased digitisation and an evolving cybersecurity threat landscape. By expanding the scope of the cybersecurity rules to new sectors and entities, it further improves the resilience and incident response capacities of public and private entities, competent authorities and the EU as a whole. 

The Directive on measures for a high common level of cybersecurity across the Union (the NIS2 Directive) provides legal measures to boost the overall level of cybersecurity in the EU by ensuring: 

  • Member States’ preparedness, by requiring them to be appropriately equipped. For example, with a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) and a competent national network and information systems (NIS) authority,
  • cooperation among all the Member States, by setting up a Cooperation Group to support and facilitate strategic cooperation and the exchange of information among Member States.
  • a culture of security across sectors that are vital for our economy and society and that rely heavily on ICTs, such as energy, transport, water, banking, financial market infrastructures, healthcare and digital infrastructure.

Businesses identified by the Member States as operators of essential services in the above sectors will have to take appropriate security measures and notify relevant national authorities of serious incidents. Key digital service providers, such as search engines, cloud computing services and online marketplaces, will have to comply with the security and notification requirements under the Directive. 

ENISA – the EU cybersecurity agency

ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) is the EU agency that deals with cybersecurity. It provides support to Member States, EU institutions and businesses in key areas, including the implementation of the NIS Directive.

The Cyber Resilience Act

The proposal for a regulation on cybersecurity requirements for products with digital elements, known as the Cyber Resilience Act, bolsters cybersecurity rules to ensure more secure hardware and software products. 

The proposal for a regulation on cybersecurity requirements for products with digital elements, known as the Cyber Resilience Act, bolsters cybersecurity rules to ensure more secure hardware and software products.

EU Cyber Resilience Act – For safer and more secure digital products 

Hardware and software products are increasingly subject to successful cyberattacks, leading to an estimated global annual cost of cybercrime of €5.5 trillion by 2021. 

Such products suffer from two major problems adding costs for users and the society: 

  • a low level of cybersecurity, reflected by widespread vulnerabilities and the insufficient and inconsistent provision of security updates to address them, and
  • an insufficient understanding and access to information by users, preventing them from choosing products with adequate cybersecurity properties or using them in a secure manner.

While existing internal market legislation applies to certain products with digital elements, most of the hardware and software products are currently not covered by any EU legislation tackling their cybersecurity. In particular, the current EU legal framework does not address the cybersecurity of non-embedded software, even if cybersecurity attacks increasingly target vulnerabilities in these products, causing significant societal and economic costs. 

Two main objectives were identified aiming to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market:  

  • create conditions for the development of secure products with digital elements by ensuring that hardware and software products are placed on the market with fewer vulnerabilities and ensure that manufacturers take security seriously throughout a product’s life cycle; and
  • create conditions allowing users to take cybersecurity into account when selecting and using products with digital elements.

Four specific objectives were set out: 

  • ensure that manufacturers improve the security of products with digital elements since the design and development phase and throughout the whole life cycle;
  • ensure a coherent cybersecurity framework, facilitating compliance for hardware and software producers;
  • enhance the transparency of security properties of products with digital elements, and
  • enable businesses and consumers to use products with digital elements securely.

Cybersecurity Act

The Cybersecurity Act strengthens the role of ENISA. The agency now has a permanent mandate and is empowered to contribute to stepping up both operational cooperation and crisis management across the EU. It also has more financial and human resources than before. On 18 April 2023, the Commission proposed a targeted amendment to the EU Cybersecurity Act.

Cyber Solidarity Act

On the 18 April 2023, the European Commission proposed the EU Cyber Solidarity Act, to improve the response to cyber threats across the EU. The proposal will include a European Cybersecurity Shield and a comprehensive Cyber Emergency Mechanism to create a better cyber defence method.


Our digital lives can only work well if there is general public trust in the cybersecurity of IT products and services. It is important that we can see that a product has been checked and certified to conform to high cybersecurity standards. There are currently various security certification schemes for IT products around the EU. Having a single common scheme for certification would be easier and clearer for everyone.

The Commission is therefore working on an EU-wide certification framework, with ENISA at its heart. The Cybersecurity Act outlines the process for achieving this framework.

The EU cybersecurity certification framework 

The EU cybersecurity certification framework for ICT products enables the creation of tailored and risk-based EU certification schemes. 

Certification plays a crucial role in increasing trust and security in important products and services for the digital world. At the moment, a number of different security certification schemes for ICT products exist in the EU. But, without a common framework for EU-wide valid cybersecurity certificates, there is an increasing risk of fragmentation and barriers between Member States. 

The certification framework will provide EU-wide certification schemes as a comprehensive set of rules, technical requirements, standards and procedures. The framework will be based on agreement at EU level on the evaluation of the security properties of a specific ICT-based product or service. It will attest that ICT products and services that have been certified in accordance with such a scheme comply with specified requirements. 

In particular, each European scheme should specify: 

  • the categories of products and services covered;
  • the cybersecurity requirements, such as standards or technical specifications;
  • the type of evaluation, such as self-assessment or third party;
  • the intended level of assurance.

The assurance levels are used to inform users of the cybersecurity risk of a product, and can be basic, substantial, and/or high. They are commensurate with the level of risk associated with the intended use of the product, service or process, in terms of probability and impact of an accident. A high assurance level would mean that the certified product passed the highest security tests. 

The resulting certificate will be recognised in all EU Member States, making it easier for businesses to trade across borders and for purchasers to understand the security features of the product or service. 

As for the implementation of the certification framework, Member State authorities, gathered in the European Cybersecurity Certification Group (ECCG) have already met several times. 

Stakeholder Cybersecurity Certification Group 

Following the entry into force of the Cybersecurity Act in 2019, the European Commission launched a call for applications to select members of the Stakeholder Cybersecurity Certification Group (SCCG). 

The SCCG will be responsible for advising the Commission and ENISA on strategic issues regarding cybersecurity certification, and assisting the Commission in the preparation of the Union rolling work programme. This is the first stakeholder expert group for cybersecurity certification launched by the European Commission.