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EU Cyber Diplomacy: The Purposes and Mechanisms of EU Cyber Partnerships with Third Countries

Thomas Renard

The European Union is increasingly active on cyber issues internationally, guided by its various foreign policy documents and strategies, including its 2013 Cybersecurity Strategy and the 2015 Council conclusions on cyber-diplomacy. In line with these documents, the EU has deepened its bilateral ties with a number of key countries, resulting in a network of cyber partnerships. This article explores these partnerships in depth. It seeks to explain the different types of purposes that they fulfil, and the various mechanisms that underpin them, based on an ambitious mapping exercise. In essence, it is argued that the EU's cyber partnerships aim not only for bilateral cooperation, but also for 'reflexive' results (whereby the EU aim to develop its cyber and diplomatic agency) and 'structural' results (whereby bilateral partnerships aim to strengthen the multilateral fabric and global internet governance). Once assessed against these multiple and intertwined purposes, these cyber partnerships appear more useful than meets the eye.

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