Bucharest has officially been chosen to host the European Cybersecurity Competence Center, an agency that will be responsible for distributing EU funding for cybersecurity research projects and coordinating the cybersecurity community around Europe. The decision was made on Wednesday with the majority of EU member states voting for the Romanian capital instead of major cities such as Brussels, Munich, and Luxembourg. “Hub for high tech and innovation, featuring a thriving digital ecosystem, dynamic and young, Romania’s capital will take this task in a responsible and dedicated manner, to the benefit of the entire European Union,” stated a post by Romania’s permanent representation on Twitter.
The main responsibility of the center will be to manage cybersecurity funds from the EU’s research and recovery budgets, as well as money from programs such as Horizon 2020, including about €2B from the Digital Europe program. The European Commission, Parliament, and Council are currently negotiating on the details of how the center will be governed, with an agreement on a law establishing the center expected to be reached before the end of the year. The center will also be responsible for establishing a network of national coordination centers, in order to link the cybersecurity community around Europe.
Apart from being a diplomatic success, the new center is going to help the Romanian tech ecosystem establish its presence on the European map. While the value of the local tech sector’s turnover is expected to reach €6.3B euros by the end of 2020, it faces a problem that is typical for the Balkan region – the lack of recognition on behalf of EU member countries. While the situation for the region has been improving throughout the last few years, taking the initiative for such projects can have a positive impact on the country’s recognition. “We were the first member state who was interested in hosting the new center. And above all we are the only country in this competition that does not host any European agency or body,” said Alexandru Nazare, the country’s representative on the EU Telecom Council, cited by Emerging Europe.
The activeness of Romanian officials in discussions and projects connected to cybersecurity may be contributed to their efforts to erase Romania’s reputation as a capital of global cybercrime. The capital already hosts the Cybercrime Program Office of the Council of Europe (C-PROC), which is responsible for assisting countries in strengthening the capacity of their legal systems to respond to the challenges posed by cybercrime. As noted by Romania Insider, the country is ranking among the first in the Balkans in terms of the quality of education it offers to its tech specialists. On a larger scale, Romania also ranks third in the EU when it comes to the percentage of female ICT graduates (24%). “A vibrant innovation, tech and cyber ecosystem, and fostering young talent across Europe are key ingredients for both our economic and security challenges and opportunities,” added Mircea Geoană, the deputy secretary-general of NATO in front of Emerging Europe.