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Growing technological dependency exposes the EU and its Member States to a range of threats, including cyberattacks and military actions. In response to this evolving landscape, the EU has established various frameworks to manage technology, with a particular focus on bolstering cyber resilience and the development of hi-tech defensive solutions. One significant development in this regard is the EU’s ability to impose targeted sanctions to deter and respond to cyberattacks that pose an external threat to the EU or its member states.
Established in May 2019, it allows the EU to impose sanctions on individuals or entities responsible for cyberattacks, those providing financial, technical, or material support for such attacks, or those involved in other ways. In July 2020, the EU imposed its first-ever sanctions for cyberattacks, marking a significant milestone in its efforts to combat cyber threats. The importance of these measures becomes evident when considering the significance of EU institutions as attractive targets for potential attackers. The consequences of these attacks are not limited to financial losses but also extend to potential damage to the EU’s reputation and trust in its institutions. Some experts emphasized the vulnerability of EU institutions. They point out that despite the Commission’s commitment to strengthen cyber resilience, it is still lacking in practice. The institutions lacks a coherent strategy and basic controls and procedures, which could have significant repercussions in the event of an attack. The auditors from the Court have called for a fundamental overhaul of the institutions’ cybersecurity architecture to mitigate these vulnerabilities and ensure the EU’s authorities are adequately protected. In light of these challenges, it is essential to explore the EU’s economic capabilities for developing hi-tech defensive solutions. The EU and its member states have considerable resources at their disposal, and they have been increasingly investing in technologies to bolster their cyber defenses.
Here are some key aspects of their approach:
Research and Development: The EU has been actively investing in research and development to stay at the forefront of technology. This includes funding for research projects and initiatives aimed at developing cutting-edge defensive solutions, such as advanced threat detection systems and encryption technologies.
Collaboration: EU member states are working closely together to pool their resources and expertise. The European Cybersecurity Organization (ENISA) serves as a central hub for coordinating cybersecurity efforts, facilitating information sharing, and supporting the development of common standards and best practices.
Public-Private Partnerships: The EU actively promotes collaboration between public and private sectors to enhance its defensive capabilities. These partnerships not only harness private sector innovation but also ensure that critical infrastructure and industries are adequately protected.
Cybersecurity Agencies: The establishment of dedicated cybersecurity agencies in several member states and at the EU level has further streamlined efforts to develop and implement hi-tech defensive solutions. These agencies provide expertise and guidance to enhance cybersecurity across various sectors.
Investment in Training and Education: The EU places a strong emphasis on training and educating cybersecurity professionals. This investment ensures a skilled workforce capable of developing and implementing advanced defensive solutions.
The EU recognizes the evolving threat landscape, with cyberattacks and military actions posing substantial risks to its institutions and member states. The establishment of a framework for imposing sanctions on cyber attackers is a significant step in deterring such threats. However, as highlighted by the auditors, there is still work to be done to improve the cyber-resilience of EU institutions. To safeguard its future, the EU continues to invest in research and development, promote collaboration, foster public-private partnerships, strengthen its cybersecurity agencies, and provide training and education. With its economic capabilities and commitment to technological advancement, the EU is well-positioned to develop and deploy hi-tech defensive solutions that will help protect its critical assets and institutions in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.
Written by: Nenad Stekić