The inaugural meeting of the European Cyber Diplomacy Dialogue (ECDD) was co-organised by the EU Cyber Direct project and the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The ECDD aspires to provide a much-needed platform for regular exchanges between policymakers and scholars in order to bridge the existing knowledge gaps, share approaches to international norms negotiation, and address specific policy challenges.
The ECDD 2019 meeting brought together a small group of researchers, cyber diplomats and senior-level government officials from the EU member states to discuss the most urgent issues for the EU’s cyber diplomacy. In that context, the two processes initiated under the auspices of the United Nations – the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Group – were discussed in more detail.
Key messages from the European Cyber Diplomacy Dialogue 2019:
- Two parallel processes – the new UN Group of Governmental Experts and the Open Ended Working Group – pose an ‘optical’ challenge for the European Union and its member states. It is therefore important to avoid speaking about the two groups (i.e. UNGGE and OEWG) as opposing or incompatible.
- The EU should adopt a constructive approach in order to make a valuable contribution to both the UNGGE and the OEWG processes. Both platforms are legitimate bodies established by the decision of all UN member states.
- The OEWG will be an important platform to engage. It might become the main venue where different strategic visions of cyberspace will collide. The EU needs to develop a convincing narrative about its vision of cyberspace and a robust communication strategy that accompanies the implementation of this vision.
- Internal capacity building and awareness raising is key for addressing a limited expertise amongst the policy makers and diplomats in places that are key locations for cyber-related debates in the future: Brussels, Vienna, Geneva, Strasbourg and New York.
- The ECDD 2019 featured an intensive two-day programme comprised of a number of lectures, roundtables and working sessions. The opening lecture on the international law and cyberspace nexus — delivered by Professor Martti Koskenniemi, Chair of the Academic Advisory Board for the EU Cyber Direct project — provided a nuanced view on the application of existing international law to cyberspace and the principal challenges for the enforcement of legal rules and standards in cyberspace.
In addition, a series of deep dives helped to bridge the existing knowledge gap and provided updates on topical issues such as due diligence in cyberspace, strategic autonomy and cyber capabilities, as well as governmental approaches to vulnerability disclosure. These were complemented by roundtables focused on exploring the national approaches to cyber diplomacy in countries such as China, India and Russia as well as on identifying the EU’s added value as a leading player in the global discussions on cyber norms, confidence-building measures, cyber capacity-building, and cyber resilience.