Representatives of EU member state governments selected Bucharest, the capital of Romania, as the home base for its new cybersecurity research hub. Named the European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Center (ECCC), it’s set to start operations in 2021.
The European Union has set out a path to strengthen cybersecurity and to take advantage of new digital opportunities. In April 2019, the EU adopted the Cybersecurity Act which introduced a system of EU-wide certification schemes and established the EU’s cybersecurity agency ENISA.
As part of the same cybersecurity reforms, the EU has also created the new cybersecurity research hub, which is backed by a network of national coordination centers. This structure will help secure the digital single market and increase the EU’s autonomy in the area of cybersecurity.
Last week, EU member states selected Bucharest, the capital of Romania, as the prospective seat of the new European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Center (ECCC).
Focus on Coordination of Research and Investments
While ENISA will continue to focus on standards, the ECCC will be “the EU’s main instrument for pooling investment in cybersecurity research, technology and industrial development”. As such, it will improve the coordination of research and innovation in cybersecurity in the EU.
The ECCC’s overall mission is to:
- Set-up and help coordinate a National Coordination Centers Network and the Cybersecurity Competence Community
- Implementing cybersecurity-related financial support from Horizon Europe and the Digital Europe Program
This will feed into several objectives, such as managing the funding of new cybersecurity research, providing financial support and technical assistance to cybersecurity start-ups and SMEs, and promoting cybersecurity standards. More about the ECCC and its responsibilities can be found on the EU website.
Bucharest Chosen Over Brussels in The Last Round
Seven countries filed applications to host the new cybersecurity research hub. Besides Romania, Luxembourg, Leon (Spain), Munich (Germany), Vilnius (Lithuania), Warsaw (Poland) and Brussels (Belgium) were also candidates.
Representatives of EU member state governments selected the host country in two rounds of voting. In the last round, the Belgian capital lost by 12 votes to 15.
Belgium is home to a large and diverse set of key stakeholders. The country already hosts the European Commission, the EU Council, EU parliament, the European Space Agency, CERT-EU, and NATO. Romania, on the other hand, remains one of the few member states which has not yet hosted an EU agency or hub since it joined the EU in 2007. This was an important argument for Romania for securing a successful application this time.
Strong Focus on ICT and Cyber Studies
In this application, Romania also boasted about the strong focus on ICT and cyber studies in its educational system. First of all, public education in Romania is free of charge at all levels and it is accessible to all EU citizens. Moreover, educational institutions offer numerous programs in other EU languages, such as English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.
Nationwide, 11 universities and high schools have developed over 15 cybersecurity programs on topics ranging from cybersecurity of military information systems, cryptography, digital investigations to machine learning and network security.
In the 2019-2020 academic year, Romania had over 27,000 IT&C students (IT, computer science and informatics) enrolled in higher education. Furthermore, the number of graduates reached 5,365 nationwide. In addition, almost a quarter of ICT graduates in Romania are female, which is much higher than the EU average.