Network robustness is a central point in network science, both from a theoretical and a practical point of view. In this paper, we show that layer degradation, understood as the continuous or discrete loss of links’ weight, triggers a structural transition revealed by an abrupt change in the algebraic connectivity of the graph. Unlike traditional single layer networks, multiplex networks exist in two phases, one in which the system is protected from link failures in some of its layers and one in which all the system senses the failure happening in one single layer. We also give the exact critical value of the weight of the intralayer links at which the transition occurs for continuous layer degradation and its relation with the value of the coupling between layers. This relation allows us to reveal the connection between the transition observed under layer degradation and the one observed under the variation of the coupling between layers.