The EC has given the go-ahead to setting up a pan-European cybercrime squad, designed to help police forces across the continent coordinate their efforts.
The Brussels-based agency will go by the name of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) and will start operating from 2004, after the debates over its creation were concluded faster than expected.
The Commission acknowledged in launching the agency that an increasingly electronic society has rendered security a problem that affects all European nations but the differing paces and approaches to Internet and network security among member states has created problems in the past – problems that it hopes ENISA will be able to rectify.
The agency isn't intended to be a single cybercrime-combating force for the whole of Europe but will ensure cooperation between the various European high-tech crime units, as well as acting as a central knowledge and research resource for security on the continent.
ENISA will also be charged with raising awareness among citizens, businesses and the public sector about common security threats like viruses.
It will operate initially for four years, with a budget of €24.3m, with the option of extending its lifespan if it proves successful.