The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is promising the creation of a European Union “Cyber Brigade”.
This comes ahead of the European elections 2024, as the continent’s “political families” battle for control of the European Parliament and, by extension, the next European Commission.
The strategic initiative to create a state-of-the-art European Cyber Brigade within the next two years is part of a leaked draft of EPP’s election manifesto obtained by Brussels Signal.
The new brigade are likely to work in uniform, said one high-ranking source in the EPP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They would operate in a military capacity, they would be men and women in uniform,” the source said.
“Most likely not a European uniform like Frontex but a brigade of different cyber security experts from different Member States’ militaries, who would wear their countries’ respective uniforms.”
According to an earlier leaked version the manifesto, the European Cyber Brigade is aimed at ensuring Europe’s “readiness and resilience” in the face of what the manifesto cites as a growing wave of “cyber threats”.
“We will establish a European Cyber Brigade within two years to make sure Europe is able to thwart cyber-attacks,” the document stated.
The initiative takes a “proactive” approach to cybersecurity, acknowledging what many see as the increasing challenges posed by the digital revolution.
The EPP’s new manifesto is heavily focused on security, indicating what some observers and rivals of the political group have criticised as a its “rightward drift”.
The EPP’s vision extends beyond the digital realm. The manifesto outlines plans to address challenges such as securing borders against illegal migration and combating terrorism and organised crime.
“We want to leave no room for terrorists and organised crime in our Europe,” it states, highlighting a commitment to an “extensive expansion” of Europol and a strengthening of international co-operation to combat such threats.
If such proposals could be interpreted as a rightward drift, the approach still seems very much Euro-federalist as it aims to expand EU-level and Brussels-centred institutions.
The EPP aims to triple the number of Frontex staff to 30,000, transforming it into a “robust” border and coast guard division apparently designed to protect Europe’s external borders “more effectively”.
Moreover, the EPP envisions “a strong Europe that speaks with one voice” on the international stage.
To achieve this, the manifesto proposes replacing the unanimity principle in foreign and defence policy decisions with qualified majority voting.
This, the political group believes, will enable Europe to “react swiftly” to international crises and effectively pursue its foreign policy goals.