30 Mar 2021   |   Network Updates   |   Update from Microsoft
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Microsoft launches new initiative to advance European perspectives on global cybersecurity policy debates


Together with key stakeholders in the cybersecurity domain, Microsoft today launched a new multistakeholder initiative to advance European perspectives on global cybersecurity policy debates.

The European Cyber Agora will be a forum for providing multistakeholder guidance and cooperation on EU cybersecurity policy issues through structured exchanges between EU institutions, EU Member States, the private sector, academia, and civil society, with the aim of strengthening the collective EU vision of cyberspace globally. The European Cyber Agora is supported by our partners, including the European Union Cyber Direct Program, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Carnegie Europe, Leiden University, the Cyber Policy Institute, Chatham House, KPMG, the University of Ljubljana, the Information Security Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, and the EU’s CYDIPLO network.

The European Cyber Agora builds on the objectives of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy, released in December last year, which sets out ambitious plans for the EU and its Member States to advance technical cooperation, crisis management, security standards, cyber diplomacy, capacity building and, in particular, multistakeholderism. This was echoed in the EU Council Conclusions on EU’s Cybersecurity Strategy for the Digital Decade earlier this week, which specifically addressed the goal of this initiative:

[The Council of the European Union] “STRONGLY SUPPORTS the multi-stakeholder model for Internet governance and cybersecurity and commits itself to reinforcing regular and structured exchanges with stakeholders including the private sector, academia and civil society in international fora, including within the context of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.”

The European Cyber Agora will provide a platform for these regular and structured stakeholder exchanges. With a vibrant community of civil society organizations and vast cybersecurity expertise across universities, think thanks, and industry, Europe has a lot to gain from formalizing a framework for these interactions.

This is the first initiative of its kind specifically dedicated to European multistakeholder discussions on cybersecurity. Globally, cybersecurity issues are discussed at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the United Nations, the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), but Europe has an opportunity to find new ways to convene and channel more stakeholder voices back into global fora. The European Cyber Agora will aim to bridge this gap and help to advance European positions on the global stage.

The first European Cyber Agora will convene for an online event on June 2-3, 2021. The event will feature workshops on topics such as the 5G toolbox, cybersecurity aspects of digital sovereignty, the nexus between health care and cyber security and European views on emerging technologies, in the hope of producing tangible guidelines to support the implementation of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy. We therefore encourage interested stakeholders to get involved in the development of these dedicated workshops to help Europe deliver on its cyber ambitions. More information on how to join the community can be found on the European Cyber Agora website.

First reactions from government stakeholders to the European Cyber Agora initiative

“Europe is one of the strongest voices globally for a free, open, secure and stable cyberspace. This value-based and human-centric vision of cyberspace cannot be protected by governments alone but must involve the whole multistakeholder community. Europe, itself built on partnerships, is best-placed to show how collaboration between different sectors can help advance responsible behavior in cyberspace.“

– Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Ambassador at Large for Cyber Diplomacy, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“The nongovernmental sector is a valuable resource for policy makers; now is the time to harness this resource in Europe and work together to promote our values globally.”

– Wiktor Staniecki, Deputy Head of Division, Security and Defence Policy Division, European External Action Service (EEAS)

“Slovenia welcomes the Cyber Agora initiative and is excited to be working with the non-governmental sector to identify, implement, and advance cybersecurity best practices. Resilience – online and offline – needs to be a priority for Europe and we can only achieve it in partnership with the multistakeholder community.”

– Dr Uroš Svete, Director Information Security Administration, Ministry of Public Administration, Republic of Slovenia

“It is time for inclusive, sustainable, and structured multistakeholder engagement alongside the implementation process of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy.”

This article was first published on 25 March by Microsoft.

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