The acts of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have shown that Europe’s maritime infrastructure is vulnerable. Who is behind the attacks is unclear despite numerous new findings, but the European heads of state and government are confronted with a new reality, writes “World“. Potential attackers could target maritime infrastructure to paralyze European society in a conflict.
Despite these risks, the European Commission is pursuing the ambitious goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent over the next seven years. The expansion of the maritime infrastructure plays a key role in this. In April, for example, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the heads of state and government of eight other countries signed a declaration to turn the North Sea into a green power plant. To do this, they rely on the construction of offshore wind farms and energy islands, which should generate around 300 gigawatts per year by 2050, according to “Welt”.
Maritime infrastructure security is becoming increasingly important
At the same time, the security of the maritime infrastructure is gaining in importance. Because according to “Welt”, Russian ships are already in northern European waters to collect information. Last month, Russian spy ships were spotted in Scandinavian waters charting offshore wind farms and power lines. The maritime infrastructure therefore seems to be the target of potential acts of sabotage.
The planned energy islands are an important building block for the implementation of green energy production in Europe. Denmark, for example, is already carrying out the necessary procedures for building an energy island. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are also planning to build such islands. However, protecting the undersea cables connecting these islands presents a challenge.
Comprehensive maritime spatial plan for the entire North Sea
The importance of protecting the maritime infrastructure has increased significantly in recent years. According to a draft report by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, there is an urgent need to invest in protecting and regulating infrastructure and to improve coordination. A comprehensive maritime spatial plan for the entire North Sea, as proposed by Christian Bueger, a professor at the University of Copenhagen, could be an important step in this direction.
With all the focus on prevention and surveillance, Bueger said, repair capacity should not be neglected in the event of sudden damage. The maritime infrastructure remains one of Europe’s Achilles’ heels, the protection and maintenance of which is of the utmost importance.