The European Commission is calling for feedback on how best to safeguard the region's electronic communication networks against disruption from malicious attacks and natural hazards.
The call follows the publication of a study looking at the availability and robustness of electronic communications infrastructures.
The commission says as services and processes become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, the consequences of the failure of or criminal attack on a single network or sub-system could potentially be propagated more widely and faster than ever before.
In the banking and finance sector in particular, communications disruption of electronic payments systems causes bank liquidity problems or inability to make cash machine transactions.
The EC says protective measures need to be put in place to ensure that critical services and infrastructure are not vulnerable.
The study makes 10 recommendations for key actions to enhance preparedness and the protection and resilience of networks against attack, including emergency exercises and drills, the establishment of restoration procedures, mutual aid agreements between operators and service providers and the enhancement of information sharing mechanisms including cross-sector communications.
The study and the results of the consultation will contribute to a strategic initiative on resilience and robustness of information and communication networks to be decided by the Commission in early 2008.
Ealier this month UK banks were forced to re-evaluate contingency strategies to ensure businesses remain open in the event of a bird flu epidemic after a planning exercise organised by UK regulators found that increased staff absences could lead to branch closures and empty ATMs.
Read a draft of the EC's report here:Download the document now 2.4 mb (Adobe Acrobat Document)