Fall 2020, No. 2, vol. 2 / Romanian Cyber Security Journal

The European Union as a Global Actor in Cyberspace: Can the Cyber Sanctions Regime Effectively Deter Cyber-Threats?


This paper presents and analyses the cyber sanctions regime of the European Union (EU) approved by the Council of the EU on May 17, 2019. The broader aim is to explore the effectiveness of the EU’s approach towards cyber diplomacy. To do so, the strategy and means leveraged by the EU to influence the behaviour of potential aggressors in cyberspace are analysed. The first argument is that the EU’s ambitions as a global actor in cyberspace are not met by its cyber-defence capabilities. As for similar challenges that the EU is facing in the realm of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), there is a capability-expectations gap [Hill, 1993] in cyber-defence. Important actions have been taken to recognise the importance of a free, open and secure internet. Nevertheless, more capabilities are needed to dissuade state actors from carrying out cyber-attacks against EU assets. The final part of the paper aims to explore how the cyber sanctions regime tackles the need to fill the EU’s capability-expectation gap in cyber‑defence.

cyber security, cyber sanctions regime, cyber defence

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