This publication, edited by Senior Fellow Dennis Broeders, collects the results of our research seminar co-organized with EU Cyber Direct on digital sovereignty, with contributions by our research team member Monica Kaminska, Raluca Csernatoni, Kristina Irion, Giorgio Monti, Margarita Robles-Carrillo, Simona Soare and Paul Timmers.
The publication is available as a PDF on EU Cyber Direct's website.
The debate in Europe about digital sovereignty, technological sovereignty, data sovereignty and strategic autonomy has been building over recent years at both the EU level and the level of individual Member States. The different concepts – and their diverse interpretations – cover the sovereignty concerns of citizens, states and the EU itself, and range from the protection of fundamental rights to addressing geo-economic strengths and vulnerabilities and European military concerns. The language of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy – on which we focus in this research note – has become integrated into the policy statements and documents of the European Union, even if definitions of the terminology remain scarce. While there has been much analysis of these new narratives of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy, less attention has been paid to the alignment – or misalignment – between these narratives and the EU policies that would translate the concepts into everyday life. This lacuna was the point of departure for the EU Cyber Direct Research Seminar we organised on the 18th of March 2022 under the title Digital Sovereignty: From Narrative to Policy?, the results of which are published in this report. The seminar took the recent discussions and narratives about EU digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy as a starting point and asked what these narratives mean for the array of individual (EU) policies that will have to support a new strategically autonomous/geopolitical positioning of the Union: does the EU have the instruments, policies, institutions and political will to implement and substantiate its geopolitical ambitions? And, if so, what does that substantiation look like?