In February 2023, EU Cyber Direct, the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the EU Institute for Security Studies invited cyber ambassadors and attachés from EU member states and like-minded countries to a panel discussion in order to deliberate on advancing the EU’s Cyber Posture. Within the context of increasing confrontation in cyberspace and against the backdrop of the May 2022 Council Conclusions on the EU’s Cyber Posture, the discussions focused on how other international actors’ cyber postures will affect the EU and how the EU’s Cyber Posture and Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox could further promote responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.
The panellists all agreed that no matter how much funds and skilled personnel are engaged to deal with cyber issues, the lack of trust over such sensitive issues, such as cyber defence, will continue to hamper the EU’s efforts to tackle cyber threats. There were differences of opinion when it came to how the EU should shape its future cyber policies, with some panellists arguing that predicable behaviour and language will demonstrate the EU’s ambitions in cyberspace to other international actors, while others outlined how the EU’s current discourse on sovereignty poses both risks and opportunities. The panel also examined how the EU could muster its normative power to make trade agreements conditional on good cyber behaviour and how diplomatic mediation could be included in the Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox to support confidence-building measures. Finally, the panel grasped with the issue of the EU’s strategic cyber dependencies.
Following the panel discussion, a Q&A session allowed the audience to pose questions about how changes to the EU’s Cyber Posture and Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox could be accommodated given the differing capabilities and positions of EU member states.
On the whole, the fruitful panel and Q&A discussions identified emerging cyber challenges facing the EU but also possible avenues on how to tackle said challenges via an updated Cyber Posture and Cyber Diplomatic Toolbox.