We need to emphasise EU cyberspace partnerships | Josianne Cutajar

Embracing technological foresight will redefine our industries, the European way of life and the global reality

As we stand on the brink of a new era, defined by rapid digital transformation and urgent environmental concerns, my recent delegation visit to Silicon Valley as a representative of the European Parliament’s Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) has solidified my belief in the importance of a secure, digital and sustainable Europe, which stands to gain from trans-Atlantic cooperation.

The potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to redefine our society is tremendous. Engaging with technological leaders such as Google, Meta, and NVIDIA in the San Francisco Bay Area allowed me to delve into the intricacies of ongoing developments as well as the effect of policy and legislation with a cross-border impact. During these discussions, I spoke about my digital work at the European Parliament, including on the recent historical AI Act, as well as my active commitment to ensure the prioritisation of ethical and human-centric AI development.

Additionally, we spoke about the importance of safe, efficient and resilient digital infrastructure, networks and services against a gamut of increasing threats. Strengthening collaboration in the cybersecurity field is key. As one of the representatives of Palo Alto Networks stated, cyber threats are increasing exponentially and it is only by cross-border and collective cooperation, including between the industry itself and the public sector, that we can increase our resilience. In this regard, I spoke about my role as Rapporteur for ITRE where through an amendment to the Cyber Security Act, we are aiming to address fragmentation in the single market via a common cybersecurity certification scheme for managed security services.

The EU is working on a number of cybersecurity laws to strengthen endurance and resilience in the face of an increasingly complex geopolitical climate. My discussions have underlined the need for clear definitions and legal certainties. These are not merely technical details but the foundation for building a secure digital environment capable of protecting our citizens and businesses against cyber threats as well as other digital risks.

In the transportation sector, where I have negotiated on behalf of the Socialists changes to the Cyber Solidarity Act, we face a pressing reality. Cybersecurity is no longer a concept confined to the digital realm but extends to the physical safety of people. With intelligent transportation systems becoming the norm, securing in-vehicle data and control systems is paramount. Any breach can have dire consequences, making our amendments focused on the cybersecurity of all transport subsectors all the more critical.

Our visit also brought to light the transformative power of the metaverse – a concept that leaps beyond conventional collaborative platforms. It is here that the confluence of minds can occur without the barriers of physical distance, offering a disruptive transformation for industries, including tourism, which traditionally relies on the richness of human connection. At EU level the Commission has recently adopted its new strategy on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds, that surely is only the beginning of the policy road in this field.

However, policy, legislation and infrastructure are only part of the solution. Another core piece of this puzzle is the workforce. Our dedication to capacity-building when it comes to cybersecurity and digital skills is not just educational; it is a strategic investment in Europe’s digital sovereignty. Equipping individuals with the necessary skills also empowers businesses to secure their operations, preserve jobs, and bolster economies.

As I reflect on the dialogues that took place during my visit to San Francisco, which also included discussions at Stanford University, it is clear that our focus must not solely be on immediate outcomes but also on the long-term impact and potential of these advances. Embracing technological foresight will redefine our industries, the European way of life and the global reality. Moreover, we stand to gain from stronger cross-continent cooperation, with a focus on joint research and innovation, which can help us address common challenges and opportunities in the digital field and beyond.