ARKANSAS, Oct 2 (Future Headlines)- In a world increasingly driven by technology, securing critical technologies has become a paramount concern for governments and international bodies. The European Union (EU) is no exception. To safeguard its economic and strategic interests, the European Commission has embarked on a mission to assess and address the risks associated with four critical technologies: semiconductors, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum technologies, and biotechnologies.
The European Commission’s move aligns with the EU’s broader economic security strategy, introduced in June, which aims to reduce the bloc’s vulnerability to disruptions in critical supply chains. This vulnerability became glaringly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, which led to supply chain disruptions and an energy crisis in the EU. In addition to these crises, concerns about China’s growing assertiveness in the tech sector have driven many countries, including the United States and Australia, to take similar measures to protect their interests.
Semiconductors are the backbone of modern technology, powering everything from smartphones to advanced weapons systems. As the global chip shortage highlighted, the semiconductor industry is essential for a wide range of sectors. Any disruption in the supply of semiconductors can have far-reaching consequences. The EU is keen to secure its access to these chips while avoiding dependence on countries not aligned with its values.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming industries and economies. It offers tremendous potential for innovation and efficiency but also raises concerns about security and ethics. The EU aims to ensure that AI technologies developed or used within its borders align with its values and standards. This includes addressing potential risks associated with AI being weaponized or misused.
Quantum technologies, including quantum computing and quantum communication, have the potential to revolutionize computing, cryptography, and communications. The EU recognizes the strategic importance of these technologies and seeks to protect its interests in this rapidly evolving field.
Biotechnologies encompass a wide range of fields, from vaccines and genome sequencing to gene editing. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of biotechnologies for public health and safety. Ensuring access to critical biotechnologies and safeguarding against their misuse are top priorities for the EU.
The European Commission’s approach begins with a comprehensive risk assessment of these four critical technologies. Member states will collaborate with the Commission to identify potential risks associated with these technologies being weaponized, misused, or manipulated by countries that do not share EU values or interests. This risk assessment is slated to be completed by the end of the year.
Once the risks are assessed, the EU will proceed to implement measures to mitigate these risks. While the exact nature of these measures is yet to be unveiled, they may encompass a range of strategies. One of the most straightforward measures could be the implementation of export controls on critical technologies. By regulating the export of certain technologies, the EU can prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. These controls can be tailored to address specific risks and concerns associated with each technology.
Collaboration with like-minded countries and international organizations is another potential approach. By forming partnerships, the EU can collectively address the challenges posed by the weaponization or misuse of critical technologies. This approach can also enhance the EU’s leverage in negotiations and enforcement.
The EU may focus on bolstering its domestic capabilities in these critical technology sectors. This could involve increasing investments in research and development, fostering innovation, and nurturing homegrown talent. By reducing dependence on external sources, the EU can enhance its resilience. The EU has a track record of setting high standards and regulations in various sectors. In the context of critical technologies, the EU may develop robust frameworks that govern their development, use, and export. This can include ethical guidelines, safety protocols, and security measures.
Commission Vice President Vera Jourova and EU industry chief Thierry Breton are slated to hold a press conference on this issue. They will likely provide more insights into the EU’s strategy for safeguarding critical technologies and shed light on the specific measures and partnerships the EU intends to pursue.
As the EU seeks to reduce vulnerability to disruptions and external pressures, it must tread carefully to ensure that these measures do not stifle technological progress and collaboration. Striking the right balance will be essential as the EU takes steps to protect its interests in semiconductors, AI, quantum technologies, and biotechnologies. Ultimately, this initiative underscores the EU’s commitment to economic security and its resolve to navigate the geopolitical realities of the modern tech-driven world.
Reporting by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White