Go to news


EU announces possible stricter controls on critical technologies

Critical Technologies

The European Commission has issued a strategic recommendation focusing on risk assessment in technology areas critical to the economic security of the European Union. he origin of this measure lies in the joint communication signed in June by Brussels and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, which sets out a comprehensive strategy to address economic security in the EU.

The recommendation focuses on technology risk assessment and the prevention of technology leakage, one of the four types of risks mentioned in the strategy. The risk assessment will be carried out in an objective manner, and no specific results or follow-up measures will be anticipated at this stage.

In this context, the Commission has identified ten critical technology areas based on three main criteria:

  • Enabling and transformative nature of the technology.
  • Risk of dual civilian and military use.
  • Risk of use in violation of human rights.

Areas of critical technologies

  • Advanced semiconductors technologies: mocroelectronics, photonics, hogh frecuency chips, semiconductor manufacturing equipment at very advanced node sizes.
  • Artificial intelligence technologies: high performance computing, cloud and Edge cimputing, data analytics technologies, computer visión, language processing, object recognition.
  • Quantum technologies: quantum computing, quantum cryptography, quantum communications, quantum sensing and radar.
  • Biotechnologies: techniques of genetic modification, new genomic techniques, gene-drive, synthetic biology.
  • Advanced connectivity, navigation and digital technologies: secure digital communications and connectivity, cybersecurity technologies, internet of thingss and virtual reality, distributed ledger and digital identity technologies, guidance, navigation and control technologies.
  • Advanced sensing technologies: electro-optical, radar, chemical, biological, radiation and distributed sensing, magnetometers, magnetic gradiometers, underwater electric field sensors, gravity meters and gradiometers.
  • Space & propulsion technologies: dedicated space-focused technologies ranging from component to system level, space surveillance and earth observation technologies, space positioning, navigation and timing, secure communications including Low Earth Orbit connectivity, propulsion technologies.
  • Energy technologies: nuclear fusion technologies, reactors and power generation radiological conversion/enrichment/recycling technologies, hydrogen and new fuels, net-zero technologies, including photovoltaics, Smart grids and energy storage.
  • Robotics and autonomous systems: drones and vehicles, robots and robot-controlled precisión systems, exoskeletons, AI-enabled systems.
  • Advanced materials, manufacturing and recycling technologies: technologies for nanomaterials, Smart materials, advanced ceramic materials, stealth materials, safe and sustainable by design materials, additive controlled micro-precision manufacturing and small.scale laser machining/welding, technologies for extraction, processing and recycling or critical raw materials.

Within these areas, four have been highlighted as the most sensitive and with immediate risks related to security and technology leakage:

  • Advanced Semiconductor Technologies, which include microelectronics, photonics, high-frequency chips and semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
  • Artificial Intelligence technologies, such as high-performance computing, cloud and edge computing, data analytics, computer vision, language processing and object recognition.
  • Quantum technologies, encompassing quantum computing, quantum cryptography, quantum communications, quantum sensing and radar.
  • Biotechnologies, including genetic modification techniques, new genomic techniques, genedrive and synthetic biology.

The Commission urges Member States to carry out collective risk assessments in these four areas by the end of the year. Guiding principles are provided for structuring these assessments, such as consultation of the private sector and protection of confidentiality.

The Commission will also consider future risk assessments in other technology areas, taking into account ongoing actions to improve EU competitiveness in these areas.

Next steps

The Commission will work closely with Member States through the relevant specialised fora to initiate collective risk assessments in the above four technology areas.

In addition, an open dialogue will be conducted between the Commission and Member States to determine the appropriate timing and scope of future risk assessments, taking into account the evolution of risks over time. By spring 2024, the European Commission could propose new initiatives based on this dialogue, the initial experience of the collective risk assessments and any new information received on the above-mentioned technology areas.

It is important to stress that the recommendation will not predetermine the outcome of the risk assessments. Only the detailed results of the collective assessments, analysing in depth the level and nature of the risks at stake, will serve as a basis for further discussion on the need for specific and proportionate measures to promote, associate or protect any of these technology areas or their corresponding subsets.