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.
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