15 Sep 2020   |   13 pages

What is ‘tech sovereignty’?

Since COVID-19, EU leaders are pushing for greater independence from US and Chinese technology. Industry and researchers warn against closing Europe’s arms to the rest of the world. This special report decodes the debate


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As political memes go, “tech sovereignty” has become a viral phenomenon among European leaders in the past six months. Since the COVID-19 crisis started, politicians across the left-right spectrum have started pushing to reduce Europe’s dependence on US or Chinese-origin technologies. From vaccine development to artificial intelligence, billions of euros are now being mobilised across the European Union; and the rhetoric has gone nuclear.

“If we don’t build our own champions in all areas — digital, artificial intelligence,” French President Emmanuel Macron recently said, “our choices will be dictated by others.”

On 8 September, Science|Business organised an online conference: ‘Industrial R&D: Europe first?’ It captured, at an important juncture, the state of play in EU policy for a potentially momentous change in the way Europe funds, manages and regulates its markets for technology in healthcare, energy, aerospace, digital systems and many other fields.

This report incorporates Science|Business’ independent news-gathering on the topic, as well as commentary delivered at the conference.

It is the opening of a series of events, white papers and news coverage that Science|Business is launching to explore this policy trend over the next year.

If your organisation would like to join our initiative, email gail.cardew@sciencebusiness.net.

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