Governing through crisis. Conflict, crises and the politics of cyberspace | Online Conference | 9-11 November 2021
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Panel 6


European Cybersecurity: Redefining Sovereignty

Cosmina Moghior

Cosmina Moghior is pursuing her Ph.D. in political science at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies. She is researching the issue of “European Digital Sovereignty: Technological Independence in the Context of Strategic Confrontation”. The goal of her study is to define the concept of digital sovereignty applied in the European context. She examines the institutional setting of the newly launched concept and European Commission’s policy innovation edge in the digital sector.

Cosmina is also a Public Policy Expert at Romanian National Computer Security Incident Response Team (CERT-RO). Her professional experience includes representing the institution in a wide range of EU-level cooperation groups, including on NIS Directive, cybersecurity certification and ENISA ad-hoc working groups.

Twitter: @CosminaMoghior

LinkedIn: Cosmina Moghior



European Digital Sovereignty: An Analysis of Authority Delegation

The European Commission (EC) launched the concept of “digital sovereignty” to address the issue of technological dependence on third-party producers. The EC defines this concept as the capacity to make “autonomous technological choices” and the ambition to shape rules and standards at the international level. However, this definition does not offer any details of the institutional setting of the concept. My goal in this article is to examine the source of sovereignty in the digital European context. Judging by the strategic importance of technology in the current decade, the strategic discussion on this topic tends to be concentrated at the macro-EU level. My question is how and why did the EU member states delegate the authority to the European institutions? And what mechanisms of control and level of discretion the member states are applying towards the EU institutions to ensure their interests and goals are met? I will explore this puzzle with the analytical framework of principal-agency theory. The first step is to identify the hierarchical relationships in the European digital policy setting by mapping the instances indicating this relation. I will explore EU member states’ choice for collective action and for authority delegation by looking at the degree of preference heterogeneity. Secondly, I will focus on the self-reinforcing mechanisms of delegation of power to the European institutions to act on behalf of the member states on digital sovereignty. I will discuss the aspects of specialization, ability to manage policy externalities (addresses the coordination and collaboration dilemmas), collective decision-making facilitation, dispute resolution, credibility, and policy bias. The conclusions of the article will indicate the source of “digital sovereignty” by identifying the power holder and the action constraints.