Digital technology today holds the potential for previously unimaginable economic, societal, as well as political development. At the same time, threats are growing. Crime, and even conflicts between countries, are increasingly moving into cyberspace, and cyber attacks now pose a serious threat. Strategic competition between countries is to an ever greater extent taking place in the digital domain, and geopolitics are slowly becoming digital.
Responsible behaviour in cyberspace
The COVID‑19 pandemic, too, has clearly demonstrated how dependent we have meanwhile become on digital technology: In almost no time at all, in‑person work meetings have been replaced by video conferences. Never has it been more important to have global digital networks – and for these to be as secure as possible.
The European Union and its member states now face the task of taking coordinated and effective action to address and also shape developments in and related to cyberspace. This requires ensuring and promoting a global, free and open internet and responsible state behaviour in the digital domain.
Joint non‑paper on cyberspace policy
To support the European Union and its member states in this regard, Germany has used its Presidency of the Council of the European Union to develop and present proposals for the future of EU cyber diplomacy – in a joint effort with Estonia, France, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia. This non‑paper describes why coherent EU cyber diplomacy is key for protecting and reinforcing Europe’s digital sovereignty. The EU and its member states should have the ability and the will to shape global debates and to remain capable of action in cyberspace. With the ever more confrontational attitude of state actors in the digital sphere and the use of digital technology for undemocratic purposes by authoritarian states, this becomes extremely important.
The areas where action to strengthen EU cyber diplomacy is required include continuing cyber consultations with third countries, the formulation and strong promotion of European interests and values in cyberspace norm‑setting and technological standard‑setting bodies, the application and further development of the Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox, and EU assistance to help third countries build up cyber capacities.