VILNIUS (AFP) - Nine European Union states are to create rapid response teams to counter cyber attacks within the framework of a new EU defence pact, project leader Lithuania announced on Thursday (June 21).
"Nine states have agreed to join. The goal is to create rotational EU cyber rapid response teams," Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis told AFP.
He said his counterparts from Croatia, Estonia, the Netherlands and Romania will join him on Monday to sign the agreement in Luxembourg while Finland, France, Poland and Spain will join later this year.
Teams formed by pooling experts on a rotational basis will be ready to help national authorities to tackle cyber attacks, with the schedule to be approved next year, Karoblis said.
The minister said he expected the EU to allocate funds for software and other equipment, adding that talks with EU institutions will continue about legal and technical aspects.
The cyber force will be among the first joint projects launched under a landmark EU defence pact signed last year (2017).
The EU's move to establish the Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence, known as PESCO, was driven in part by US President Donald Trump's questioning of NATO's relevance and Britain's departure from the bloc.
Lithuania, a lead nation of the cyber defence project, has boosted its cyber capabilities in recent years to tackle what it describes as "hostile cyber activities" from nearby Russia, mostly targeting state institutions and the energy sector.