01 Feb 2024, 13:45
Jack McGovan

German energy sector calls for improvements to draft law to protect critical infrastructure

Tagesspiegel Background

Energy sector groups have called for improvements to a German interior ministry draft law set to regulate the resilience and physical safety of critical infrastructure, reports Tagesspiegel Background. Associations VKU and BDEW were critical of the draft "KRITIS umbrella law" for lacking clarity on who should be responsible for energy supply infrastructures, which need to be protected against natural disasters, accidents or sabotage, according to the news report. VKU wants the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) to be in charge of protecting infrastructure, rather than the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK). The VKU says BNetzA ​​has "a deep understanding of security aspects for the energy sector." BNetzA regularly stress tests the energy system, and has previously highlighted weak points. Plans to split responsibility for the draft law between federal and state governments was met with criticism by the association as well, which said it could lead to more confusion and less safety.

Energy industry lobby group BDEW argued that the KRITIS umbrella law should also be updated to reflect the current security situation. Protecting against cyberattacks remained important, but physical attempts at sabotage were increasing, the BDEW warned. The association's head Kerstin Andreae said that without new regulations for the energy network, “there is a risk of vulnerability to terrorist or hybrid threats simply due to insufficient deterrence.”

The likelihood of attacks to critical infrastructure – whether in the form of a physical or cyberattack – is being viewed with renewed attention in Germany following underwater explosions that destroyed large parts of the Russian-German gas pipeline, Nord Stream, in 2022. Germany's interior ministry (BMI) has since called for tighter security regulations for all sectors considered critical infrastructure. The energy sector is one of nine recognised as critical infrastructure (kritis). Under this umbrella fall businesses and services without whose supply society could experience significant supply shortages and threats to public safety.

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