“Guardian of the Galaxy? Assessing the European Union’s International Actorness in Cyberspace”, Constant Pâris (College of Europe, Bruges)

This paper aims at demystifying the international actorness of the European Union (EU) in  cyberspace by assessing the extent to which the EU possesses sufficient capabilities to become a  global cyber-power. For this purpose, the analysis relies on a kinetic approach based on the evaluation of four intertwined criteria: it first assesses the domestic features of the EU’s  cyber-actorness (resilience and coherence) to be able to further determine the characteristics of  the EU’s international cyber-actorness (attractiveness and responsiveness). The presence of both  domestic criteria constitutes a fertile ground to assess the EU’s actorness externally. The paper argues that the EU has evolved from an inward-looking cyber-actor to a globally-oriented  one. Internally, the EU has proved to be resilient, leading to the emergence of a ‘collective  cyber-securitisation’ at the pace of cyber-attacks. Moreover, the EU has spontaneously leant  towards a decentralised ‘asymmetric governance’ to overcome internal pitfalls such as national  resistance linked to sovereignty issues. On the international stage, torn between a proactive and a  reactive approach, the role of the EU as a cyber-actor is still blurred. Through a dense network of  partnerships and international ‘magnetism’, the EU is shaping a ‘collective immunity’ in cyberspace  by projecting its vision, norms, and values abroad. However, the EU’s international actorness  remains imbued with a ‘paradoxical sleep’: the brain acts, but the body is asleep. The main conclusion is that the EU has become a budding global cyber-player that remains paralysed by its own inherent paradoxes and internal stalemates. Devoid of means to fulfil its global ambitions, the EU’s ‘cyber-power’ remains limited to the regional scope. The EU is not yet a  ‘Guardian of the Galaxy’ in cyberspace, but it does have the potential to become a globally  influential and effective cyber-power if it manages to overcome its sui generis schizophrenic  nature provoked by the tensions between its national and supranational levels.

Read more here.

logo c