The Brief: EU Cybersecurity Act goes into effect, air quality regulations

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By Shoshana Dubnow
The Brief: EU Cybersecurity Act goes into effect, air quality regulations
Copyright  REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

EU Cybersecurity Act

The EU Cybersecurity Act will go into effect on Thursday, creating new measures that give more power and resources to the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA).

The threat of electronic security has the EU on high alert, but it's also caused difficulty among member states. Not every member state has the same concern when it comes to electronic security or wants to hand over sensitive information. 

Gustav Gressel is a defence policy expert for the European Council on Foreign Relations and explained the difference in resources between countries.

"The British have the experts, they have the resources, for example, to scrutinise Huawei chips and subcomponents very thoroughly," he said. "Most of the smallest European countries don't have the capabilities of doing that. Their services, their IT, the country intelligence services and their key branches are not strong and efficient enough to do that on this level."

This is where the EU Cybersecurity Act will come in. ENISA's Executive Director Udo Helbrecht said he welcomes the move because the EU is already lagging behind the US and China.

"We have a lot of small and medium companies, which are really at the edge of cybersecurity developers. The challenge is now this global competition between Europe, Asia and the US," he said. 

Stricter air quality standards

In a big win for environmentalists, the EU's top court in Luxembourg has ruled that stricter air quality standards are needed by cities. This comes after residents from Brussels sued their local authorities over their air quality schemes. 

Last year, the European Court of Auditors said air pollution caused around 400,000 premature deaths a year in the EU.

Wastewater utilisation regulations

In an attempt to address some of the consequences of climate change, European countries have agreed on new measures to utilise wastewater from urban areas. At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU environmental affairs ministers agreed that it should be used to irrigate agricultural land. 

European Education Area

In an attempt to break down borders in the area of education, the EU has taken its first steps towards creating a European Education Area. 85 million euros have been earmarked for 17 universities to create joint curricula and European degrees as part of the Erasmus exchange programme. The idea is to increase opportunities for studying and teaching abroad.