The power grid defines one of the most important technological networks of our times and sustains our complex society. It has evolved for more than a century into an extremely huge and seemingly robust and well understood system. But it becomes extremely fragile as well, when unexpected, usually minimal, failures turn into unknown dynamical behaviours leading, for example, to sudden and massive blackouts. Here we explore the fragility of the European power grid under the effect of selective node removal. A mean field analysis of fragility against attacks is presented together with the observed patterns. Deviations from the theoretical conditions for network percolation (and fragmentation) under attacks are analysed and correlated with non topological reliability measures.