Can the EU move from a battle of narratives to a battle of actions? HR/VP Borrell in his keynote speech at the EUISS Annual Conference 2023, highlighted how the EU is moving to more practical approaches in its attitude towards foreign policy and diplomacy. Is it possible to take this leap towards transactional approaches without compromising on the core values enshrined in Article 2 of the TEU?
The Return of Geopolitics, or the ‘revenge of revisionist powers’ as phrased by W.R. Mead in a famous Foreign Affairs article, has been looming since 2014 – with the invasion of Crimea – and escalated to a full-blown strike back within the last two years with the war of aggression against Ukraine. Paraphrasing Mead, it seems indeed that the same States did never buy the geopolitical settlement and the idea of multilateralism that followed the end of the Cold War. The progressively confrontation nature of the international arena reverberates greatly in cyberspace: this poses the need to reflect upon the role of the EU’s and of its Member States’ diplomatic efforts in current equilibria vis-à-vis the Ukraine crisis, Sino-American relations and, more broadly, in response of the progressive politicisation of global cyber fora (e.g., UN processes).
Such challenges require a meticulously crafted integrated approach to security and foreign policy. As per last year’s discussion, the actions taken in the next two years will be decisive in shaping the equilibria of cyberspace in the decades to come. In this context, cyber diplomacy must be tailored to serve broader EU foreign policy objectives. It must be rendered part of a comprehensive approach that encompasses several progressively securitized areas, but also a cornerstone of the way we forge partnerships. In this context, the EU needs to re-learn how to adopt a pre-eminent posture vis-a-vis the shifting geopolitical chessboard. To this end, the Union must seek to leverage its core strengths, such as its single market and regulatory power while upholding its value-based identity. The retreat offers a platform to identify how EU cyber-diplomacy can rise to meet the challenge.
Participation in the event is by invitation only.