Strategic technologies as a driver for European sovereignty and resilience (supplementary opinion to REX/579 "European economic security strategy")

In the current geopolitical context, dominated by increasing technological competition the boundaries between economy and security are increasingly blurred. At the core economic security is about using economic measures and tools for security purposes. Shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine have highlighted the risks inherent in excessive economic dependencies. Such risks – unless properly managed – can challenge the functioning of our democratic societies and of our economies by limiting our ability to act. At heart, this is about our freedoms and sovereignty.

It is therefore crucial for the EU to develop an economic security framework driven by its own objectives and interests, aiming to maximise the benefits of European traditional economic openness, which we want to keep, while minimising the risks that stem from excessive dependencies and vulnerabilities.

Some of our member states have taken action by introducing measures to address strategic dependencies in critical raw materials and other inputs or by taking national measures to address leakage risks for very sensitive technologies. However, no member state acting alone can ensure its economic security.

The strategy proposes a thorough risk assessment in four areas:

  1. risks to the resilience of supply chains, including energy security;
  2. risks to physical and cyber security of critical infrastructure;
  3. risks related to technology security and technology leakage;
  4. risks of weaponisation of economic dependencies or economic coercion.

The strategy to mitigate these risks has three policy strands:

  1. promoting the EU's economic base and competitiveness;
  2. protecting against risks; and
  3. partnering with the broadest possible range of countries to address shared concerns and interests

The strategy proposes actions which include:

  • establish a list of technologies which are critical to economic security and assess their risks with a view to devising appropriate mitigating measures
  • further support EU technological sovereignty and resilience of EU value chains, including by developing critical technologies through Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP)
  • ensure adequate targeted support for research and development of dual-use technologies