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The Struggle for Technology Sovereignty in Europe

From now on, every country or group of countries must ask itself whether it produces the technologies it needs or has guaranteed, unfettered, long-term access to them. A country that answers no is vulnerable to technological coercion that is no less severe than the military coercion of yesteryear.

AUCKLAND – Back when states regularly used armed forces to compel others into compliance or dependence, sovereignty was primarily a geographic and military concept. But the term has more recently taken on an added dimension.

The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, revealed the West’s dependence on China for supplies of face masks and personal protective equipment. And former US President Donald Trump weaponized American technology and payment systems in an effort to advance US interests. Technology sovereignty – or the lack of it – is fast becoming a central strategic issue, not least for Europe.

Imagine, for example, that Vice Admiral Eugene H. Black III, the commander of the US Sixth Fleet, suddenly requested something unpalatable of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, noting that his fleet was stationed in the English Channel. The government and most people in the United Kingdom would regard this as a very strange manifestation of the bilateral “special relationship,” and object strenuously.

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