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Parliamentary questions
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31 July 2018
Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-002750/2018

Indeed, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security of 2016-2017 did not reach consensus on an additional report. The EU regrets it, but also stresses that views reached by consensus and articulated in previous GGE reports are still applicable, and invites other international actors to continue their implementation.

As indicated in the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council ‘Resilience, Deterrence and Defence: Building strong cybersecurity for the EU’(1), the EU promotes a strategic framework for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace in its bilateral, regional, multi-stakeholder and multilateral engagements. This ambitious framework is based on three pillars:

The application of international law, and in particular the UN Charter in its entirety, in cyberspace;
Respect for universal non-binding norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour. Such norms are currently collated under the UN GGE 2015 report, should be implemented, and could be further complemented in due course (still under a UN format);
The development and implementation of regional confidence-building measures. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is the most advanced regional organisation on the matter, with two sets of practical transparency and cooperation measures under implementation. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and the Organisation of American States are also developing regional cyber Confidence Building Measures.

In particular, the principles of jus ad bellum and jus in bello also apply to cyberspace, and there is no separation between cyberspace and the ‘physical space’ on such issues.

As implied by the question, it cannot be ruled out that a cyber-attack could amount to the level of an armed attack according to Article 51 of the UN Charter. In such event, the affected State would possess an inherent right of self-defence. If the affected State is an EU Member State, it may also invoke Article 42 (7) of the Treaty on European Union to call on other Member States to provide aid and assistance. In the 2017 Joint Communication the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also stressed that the need to respond to a particularly serious cyber incident or attack could constitute sufficient ground for a Member State to invoke the EU Solidarity Clause under Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


Last updated: 3 August 2018Legal notice