3rd Europe-Australia 1.5 track Cybersecurity Dialogue - Part 2 (This is only available in English)

von Katja Theodorakis

Dialogue on Joint Responses to Large Scale Cyber Incidents

The annual KAS Australia-Europe 1.5 track Cybersecurity Dialogue, this year already in its third iteration, aims to bring together senior government representatives, policy makers, academic experts, practitioners and members of the diplomatic corps to share their views, develop better understandings and explore how cooperation could be strengthened. Usually, this is achieved through a combination of roundtables, an in-depth seminar and meetings at various relevant institutions and ministries, as well as the respective federal, state and EU Parliaments – alternating between Canberra/Sydney and Berlin/Brussels as locations.

This year’s dialogue took place in a slightly altered, virtual format – the overarching theme of ‘Cybersecurity in Crisis Times- A Way Forward for Europe and Australia’ was addressed through three separate interactive discussion sessions with speakers from Europe and Australia.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted not only the interconnectedness of the world but also the associated vulnerabilities. Even before, it has been argued that greater cooperation and multilateral engagement are necessary on a broader geopolitical level. This has been especially important for Europe, whose identity is founded in a vision of cooperation and openness, as highlighted by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.


Multilateralism is seen as the only way forward:


“Effective collective action can meet the risks of disease, climate change, cyber-attacks, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism. No single country on its own can make itself secure; unilateralism is not a serious policy path. This is what global governance (not government) is all about. The form of the arrangements can and should be tailored to the threat and to those willing and able to cooperate, but there is no viable alternative to multilateralism.”

Deglobalization and Its Discontents by Richard N. Haass


This requires us to look at how we manage global interdependence, particularly in the area of cyberspace, as a politically contested space shaped by hyper-connectivity and lack of overarching global governance. The topic for the entire dialogue/discussion series hence centred around multilateral and multi-stakeholder engagement and the potential for increasing cooperation as the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the attack surface for cyber operations. While this first discussion in the series focused on global cyber norms, subsequent sessions were respectively dedicated to joint responses to large-scale cyber incidents and the EU’s toolkit  as well as a discussion on emerging technologies and issues of Digital Autonomy for Australia and Europe


We were supported in the conceptualisation and organization by three experts from the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung – a Berlin think tank at the intersection of technology and society: Julia Schuetze, Alexandra Paulus and Kate Saslow who chaired these sessions

This event was held under Chatham House Rule (not open to the public). Experts were invited to these discussions as part of a selected group to allow for the opportunity to actively engage and share insights.


Session 2:


With the EU Cyber Diplomacy toolbox and the blueprint for EU-coordinated responses in case of large scale incidents, the EU has established a set of internal tools to enable a wider EU-level response. In the past, EU member states have joint ‘Coalitions of the Willing and Capable’, some of which were led by Australia, e.g. the NotPetya coordinated attribution effort. This was then followed up by an EU statement. As the EU is internally practicing their responses, aiming to go as far as sanctions, this development impacts the relationship with third countries. How do EU level responses impact coordination and cooperation with third countries like Australia? Input speakers and participants will talk through different scenarios and discuss coordination and cooperation options and their challenges. This will shed some light on the current views on the European and Australian relationship and creates the opportunity to gather some perspectives from EU diplomats, some key member states and Australia, as well as academic insights on the topic. 


Inputs by: Manon Le Blanc, Senior Policy Officer at European External Action Service


First Remarks by 

Rachael Falk, CEO Australian Cybersecurity  Cooperative Research Center

Dr André Barrinha, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies, University of Bath


Katja Theodorakis