In Search of Digital Sovereignty and Strategic Autonomy: Normative Power Europe to the Test of Its Geopolitical Ambitions

Dennis Broeders*, Fabio Cristiano, Monica Kaminska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article analyses the recent use of European Union (EU) terminology of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy, aiming to identify tensions between policy considerations of fundamental rights, free market principles and geopolitical concerns. These tensions are rooted in the disparity between the EU's considerable economic and regulatory power in digital matters and its limited mandate and capabilities in foreign policy. The article also explores the translation of the notions of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy into EU policy. It identifies three important trends in the geopoliticisation of the EU agenda on digital technologies: (1) the instrumental use of ‘classic’ internal market policies to exert geopolitical influence; (2) the imposition of foreign policy imperatives on national markets; and (3) new ‘hybrid’ digital policies that combine internal market concerns, fundamental rights and geopolitical concerns. Ultimately, digital sovereignty has inherent tensions with the EU's normative power in digital issues and may also result in a strategic cacophony.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1261-1280
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Volume61
Issue number5
Early online date2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • cyber security
  • digital policy
  • geopolitics
  • sovereignty
  • strategic autonomy

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