The second EU CyberNet Annual Conference studied the implications of Building Cyber Capacities in the Digital Decade

The second EU CyberNet Annual Conference: Building Cyber Capacities in the Digital Decade took place on 28 October as a hybrid event at The EGG Brussels with a transmission to a Europe-wide audience. The conference took stock of and reflected on the implications of the various developments in EU cyber capacity building while bridging cybersecurity and digitalisation.

Cyber capacity building (CCB) has become a mainstream topic that is on the agendas of stakeholders around the world, from international organisations to national cybersecurity bodies, from cybersecurity practitioners to academics. Despite the global pandemic, the EU’s external cyber capacity programmes and projects have grown their global reach, making more use of the online tools while also reaching out to new countries to share and promote the EU’s expertise as well as values.

At the same time, cybersecurity capacity in its essence is a moving target, against the background of constant innovations in technology and increasing digitalisation – as well as the proliferation of various types of cybersecurity threats. As a result, the entire global CCB effort is expanding, the aspirations of the stakeholders are rising and the diversity of expertise – both demanded and offered – is growing. Moreover, the EU’s ambitions and investments into CCB are growing, as the implementation of the 2020 EU Cybersecurity Strategy for the Digital Decade is ongoing.

For this reason, the EU CyberNet Annual Conference also focused on building cyber capacities in the digital decade. The conference brought together distinguished experts, stakeholders and partners from across the EU, with a few guest speakers from outside the EU, to discuss issues that are all essential to CCB.

The conference was opened with a live-stream from Dr Hilde Hardeman, Director and Head of Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) of the European Commission, according to whom more secure development of countries’ cyber capacities is inevitable, even crucial since in cyberspace there are no borders.

The keynote remarks by Mr Andres Sutt, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology of Estonia emphasised that the European Union has a large role to play in promoting the digital transformation abroad, which sets privacy, human rights and cybersecurity at its core.

The conference discussions started off with the first panel “Getting it right – top EU priorities for capacity building”, where current EU policies were presented and the emerging trends discussed according to the EU’s cyber capacity building needs, coordination and funding priorities until 2027. The scene was set by Mr Wiktor Staniecki, Deputy Head of Security and Defence Division at the European External Action Service, who opened the topic with discussing the main challenges with capacity building. Panelists Ms Veronika Bošković-Pohar, Slovenian Ambassador and Representative to the Political and Security Committee, Mr Thierry Barbé, Head of Unit in DG INTPA, Mr Jesper Pedersen, Deputy Head of Unit of FPI.1, and Mr Csaba Virag, Director of Capacity Building in Talgen Cybersecurity had a strategic discussion about the global cyber challenges and the prioritisation of EU’s efforts to add value while promoting European values.

In between two panels, the EU CyberNet’s activities state-of-play and plans for the future were presented by the Director of EU CyberNet, Mr Siim Alatalu.

The second panel “Global drive for digitalisation – a challenge for cybersecurity?” focused on bridging cybersecurity and digitalisation by introducing ongoing efforts against the background of emerging technologies and related cybersecurity challenges and seeking for possible complementarity on the efforts in the area of digitalisation and cybersecurity.
The introduction to the discussion was done by Mr Tanel Tang, Member of Support Group for Ukraine, Thematic/Programme Lead for Cyber in Eastern Partnership countries introducing a case study of Ukraine. The panelists Ms Kerry-Ann Barrett, Cybersecurity Program Officer in the Organization of American States, Mr Jo de Muynck, Head of the Operational Cooperation Unit in ENISA, Mr Bertrand Lathoud, Head of the Cybersecurity Competence Center (C3) of Luxembourg and Mr Kaan Sahin, International Policy Advisor agreed that raising resilience is a joint effort and efficient analysis is the key to success.

The conference was closed with two parallel sessions focusing on “Cyber capacity building projects in service of EU cyber diplomacy” and “Challenges of bilateral state cooperation at cyber capacity building measures in Africa”, which were moderated by Ms Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Ambassador-at-Large for Cyber Diplomacy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Mr John Reyels, Head of Cyber Policy Division in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.

The conference was moderated by Mr Uku Särekanno.


Watch the sessions of the conference here

Photo gallery of the conference:

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