The Union’s cyber security policy may still be in its infancy and hampered by difficulties, but the EU could yet become a key player in the field – if it plays its cards wisely. While the US has been seriously hit by the scandal surrounding the secret NSA surveillance programmes, the struggle over how to frame internet governance goes on and, more than ever, needs core stakeholders capable of defending freedom, democracy and the rule of law in cyberspace.
The EU’s longstanding commitment to those values in its foreign policy and unquestioned leadership in data protection mean it is well placed to play a significant role therein. At the same time, the EU and its member states have recently accelerated efforts to increase their cyber-defence capabilities so as to secure Europe against malicious cyber-attacks (like those carried out against the office of European Council President Herman van Rompuy in June 2012). To be truly effective, they may have to be able to play, at the same time, the roles of policeman, diplomat and regulator.