Stricter EU controls on critical technologies possible from spring 2024 – EURACTIV

The European Commission on Tuesday (3 October) announced that it would start collective risk assessments together with member states on four technology areas, which could lead to restrictive measures like export controls or development support for these technologies by spring 2024.

The move seeks to reduce risks in technology security and technology leakage in advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and biotechnologies.

“We’ve all seen what can be the risks of too much dependency, be it during the Covid pandemic or now with the Russian war in Ukraine. Europeans have paid the price for this,” Commissioner Věra Jourová said at a press conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

According to the Commission, the technologies were selected due to their “transformative nature”, their risk of civil and military fusion, as well as their risk of being used in violation of human rights.

The Commission’s recommendation to start these “collective risk assessments” is part of the EU’s “Economic Security Strategy” that the Commission published in June.

Which measures will be taken?

According to the Commission, the collective risk assessments will be carried out in collaboration between the Commission and the member states and should be finished by the end of the year.

These risk assessments will then lay the basis for any measures that the EU might take to reduce the risk of technology leakage. According to a European Commission official, these measures would likely be announced by the spring of next year. However, it is not clear whether or what kind of measures will be taken.

The list of four technologies “should not be interpreted as a list of technologies for which the EU is going to implement control measures”, the official said, arguing that measures could also be of a supportive nature or that they could lead to more intense cooperation with partner countries.

“Only after having identified the risks would the discussions start about their mitigation with EU and national level instruments and always guided by the principles of proportionality,” Jourová said.

Commissioner Thierry Breton added that “protection does not mean protectionism – again, I insist on this”. He pointed to the fact that other countries like the United States, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom also had a similar list of technologies that they were assessing for the risk they posed to security.


The move is a tentative further step towards the EU’s stated goal of “de-risking” its trade relationships instead of “de-coupling” them.

“Through the release of this list, the EU is also keen to show that it is carving its own, European de-risking strategy, instead of merely following the lead of the United States in this field,” Agathe Demarais, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), said in written comments.

The recommendation does not mention a specific country that would be targeted, but it is quite clear that China will be one of the main targets of the risk assessments due to its size and its central position in many supply chains.

“The assessment will not be country-specific, but of course, we will take into account geopolitical factors,” an EU official told journalists.

Additional technologies

In addition to the four technologies listed above, the EU Commission lists six further technologies that it wants to start a conversation on with member states:

  • Advanced connectivity, navigation and digital technologies
  • Advanced sensing technologies
  • Space and propulsion technologies
  • Energy technologies
  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Advanced materials, manufacturing and recycling technologies

Breton called the total of ten technology areas “strategic technologies for the strategic autonomy and the security of the Union”.

However, the EU is still only at the very start of implementing a true economic security strategy, as interests and geopolitical concerns still diverge among member states.

“The de-risking discourse has created divisions among EU member states,” ECFR’s Demarais said, pointing to the highly varying exposures to China among European economies.

This will make decisive de-risking steps very difficult for the EU. “[W]ithout a consensus on China, any de-risking efforts will prove to be a daunting task,” Demarais said.

Additional reporting by Alexandra Brzozowski.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

Read more with EURACTIV


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.