EU to assess economic security risks of critical technology

4 Oct 2023

Image: © Andrzej/

The European Commission is looking at tech related to semiconductors, AI, quantum computers and biotech due to concerns they could be used for military applications.

The EU plans to assess the economic security risks of four “critical technology areas”, which could lead to certain export controls.

The European Commission said it looked at 10 critical tech areas and identified four that are “highly likely” to present the most immediate risks related to technology security and technology leakage.

The four selected technology sectors are semiconductors, AI, quantum tech and biotechnologies. This includes a wide range of tech such as microelectronics, high-performance computing, quantum computing, genomic techniques and more.

The criteria to select these tech areas included their “transformative nature”, the potential military applications and the risk that they could be used in human rights violations.

The Commission said it will engage with EU member states to initiate “collective risk assessments” for these four technology sectors by the end of the year.

The decision to assess these risks is part of a European Economic Security Strategy the European Commission unveiled in June. This strategy suggests that export-control regulation could be implemented on “dual-use technology” that has relevance for both the civil and military sectors.

Věra Jourová, the VP of the European Commission for values and transparency, said technology is at the “heart of geopolitical competition” and that the EU wants to be “a player and not a playground”.

“To be a player, we need a united EU position, based on a common assessment of the risks,” Jourová said. “With this approach we will remain an open and predictable global partner, but one who nurtures its technological edge and addresses its dependencies. Our single market will only get stronger as a result in all its parts.”

Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the internal market, said the assessment is an important step for EU resilience.

“We need to continuously monitor our critical technologies, assess our risk exposure and – as and when necessary – take measures to preserve our strategic interests and our security,” Breton said.

“Europe is adapting to the new geopolitical realities, putting an end to the era of naivety and acting as a real geopolitical power.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic