EU to assess tech security risks and consider controls

BRUSSELS : The European Union will assess whether semiconductor, artificial intelligence and quantum technologies and biotechnology pose a risk to the bloc’s economic security, which could lead to curbs on exports or investments in third countries such as China.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it had established a list of four technologies, as well a further six to look into later, as part of the European Economic Security Strategy it unveiled in June.

The EU executive said then that exporting or sharing such technologies could constitute a risk if put to military use or used in human rights abuses by “countries of concern”.

The Commission stresses that it must first carry out a risk assessment with the EU’s 27 members and consulting companies before determining any measures. In some cases, the response could be to drive investment or seek alliances with partners to reduce dependencies.

The EU executive says its assessment, to be completed by the end of the year, will not focus on any third countries. The economic security paper does not name China, but talks of partnering with like-minded countries and de-risking, which form part of its policy of reducing reliance on China.

“The risk assessment will be country agnostic, but we will take into account geopolitical factors to determine how severe those risks are,” an EU official said.

The four technologies were chosen because they are considered highly likely to pose the most immediate risks.

In advanced semiconductor technologies, areas of focus include microelectronics and chip-making equipment, in AI data analytics and object recognition, and for quantum cryptography, communications and sensing.

In biotechnology, the assessment will look into genetic modifications and new genomic techniques.

The Commission could propose risk assessments of other technologies early in 2024. The EU action mirrors similar exercises by the U.S., Japan, Britain and Australia.

The EU has previously carried out an assessment of the security of its 5G networks, which has led some EU countries to restrict use of equipment made by China’s Huawei and ZTE.

Source: CNA

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