Cybersecurity: a compromise between the DSM strategy and the External Action Service

External Relations


The EU Digital Single Market strategy and the EU foreign policy at a first sight cannot be seen linked or connected in any way.

The traditional aims of the DSM strategy is in fact to open up digital opportunities for people and business enhancing, with important effects on the role played by the EU at a global level, the Europe’s position as a world leader in the digital economy.

Clearly, DSM focuses on jobs and growth, while on the other hand it has to take into account those aspects more related to internal security – from private property to intellectual property in the Digital era.

In particular, industry is one of the pillars of the European economy, in the eve of a new industrial revolution, driven by new-generation information technologies (Internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, big data and data analytics, robotics and 3D printing). European industry is strong in digital sectors and hosts as well several world-class research and technology institutes. However, high-tech sectors face severe competition from other parts of the world and, with important disparities at regional level, many traditional sectors and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are losing ground. Thus, the European Union has more than one reason to intervene in favour of the security of transactions and the specific interests of a wide range of stakeholders.

With the DSM’s strategy the European Commission committed itself in investing in ICT research and innovation widely affecting the crawling EU economy – enhancing growth and jobs – as well as offering solutions to societal issues as the smart transport, security,  and energy and environmental issues.

In addition, the DSM of content will play a major effect on promoting media freedom and pluralism throughout Europe, with a positive impact in increasing awareness about the EU, its integration process, and strengthening the EU identity. In particular, this strategy will necessarily benefit citizens also putting in place a stable regulatory framework for copyright. Moreover, the digitalisation of Europe’s cultural heritage collected in Europe’s libraries, archives, museums and audiovisual archives makes it accessible and available to everyone.


As far as the security of the Single Market is concerned, media, academics, and professionals often underline the importance of cybersecurity as a new core feature, as well as a point of convergence between the DSM strategy and the wider EU foreign policy.

The European institutions insist in enhancing trust and security through the Digital Single Market Strategy, being this one intertwined with the fight against cybercrime as part of the European Agenda on Security. Adopted in 2013, the Cybersecurity Strategy focuses on the political and juridical instruments that will secure a number of activities, paying proper attention to the importance of access to the internet, and the protection of fundamental rights online. In light of this, as cybersecurity knows no border, the Commission, together with the External Action Service, also fosters cooperation with partners on the global stage.

Thus the EU is engaged in a number of fronts to ensure cybersecurity in Europe, from helping and assisting Member States to implementing the international cooperation on cybersecurity and cybercrime. In a first stance, the EU will have to recover disparities among Member States in terms of instruments and capabilities, thus providing a level plain field for an efficient regional cooperation.

A greater homogeneity within the EU will the more and more nurture its competitive advantage in the field of cybersecurity in favor of the European citizens, enterprises (including SMEs), and public administrations. In fact, a major obstacle to this homogeneity is the fragmentation of the European cybersecurity industry.


Not just a domestic effort, cybersecurity has to be guaranteed by the EU in cooperation with other international stakeholders, through the direct participation to the main international fora. Even though the EU is particularly involved in bilateral relations like with the US towards a more comprehensive action against Cybercrime, the EU is involved in several multilateral fora, such as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).


By September 2017, it has been defined by the European Commission that EU Cybersecurity Strategy will be reviewed, and the same will happen to the mandate to the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA).


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