Chinese civil-military fusion targeted by the EU's new security strategy

Misha Lu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Credit: AFP

On June 20, the European Commission published a Joint Communication on a European Economic Security Strategy. The strategy will seek to set out a common framework for achieving economic security.

In a press release, the European Commission noted that "risks presented by certain economic linkages are evolving quickly in the current geopolitical and technological environment and are increasingly merging with security concerns." In response, according to the European Commission, the EU must develop a comprehensive approach on commonly identifying, assessing and managing risks to its economic security.

The communication proposes to carry out a thorough assessment of risks to economic security in four areas, namely supply chain resilience, technology security and technology leakage, the weaponization of economic dependencies or economic coercion, and physical and cybersecurity of critical infrastructure.

In terms of technology security, the communication especially notes the risks of "civil-military fusion" and dual-use technologies such as quantum, advanced semiconductors or artificial intelligence. Accordingly, the Commission will propose a list of dual-use technologies for risk assessment that could be adopted by the European Council by September 2023. Though subject to a multilateral and EU framework, the communication indicates that decisions on the implementation and enforcement of export controls of dual-use items are mainly in the hands of member states.

The EU's regulation on dual-use export controls was revised in 2021 to include provisions that allow one member state to introduce export controls based on another member state's legislation, amounting to a coordinated and cross-border effect of export controls. Though these provisions are still being tested, the communication calls for a more rapid and coordinated action at EU level, fearing the uncoordinated export control regimes among member states would create loopholes.

Alongside export controls, the EU's outbound investment will also come under review. As indicated by the communication. the European Commission will examine what security risks can result from outbound investments, in liaison with member states, and set up a new dedicated group of experts to assist in these tasks. By the end of 2023, the Commission will propose an initiative addressing the issue.

The Communication follows the German government's unveiling of its first National Security Strategy on June 14, while the Dutch government is soon expected to announce new semiconductor export control measures, according to a report by VOA, citing the Netherlands' minister of economic affairs and climate, Micky Adriaansens, during her trip to Washington DC in early June.