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Strengthening EU-Japan Digital Connectivity: Risks and Opportunities Unveiled

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Europe and Japan recently boosted their digital partnership during the premier Japan–EU Digital Partnership Council meeting. Two Memoranda of Cooperation (MoC) were inked by representatives of these two entities, turning a new page in their cooperation strategy. This marks a bold approach toward strengthening mutual support in critical areas of connectivity.

A key agreement laid out plans to develop underwater cable connectivity across the cold waves of the Arctic. This grand plan, if successful, could bring about secure, reliable, and sustainable ties between the EU and Japan. The excitement doesn’t stop there; there’s a vision that these submarine networks might stretch even wider, reaching parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Another MoC touched on a very important area – semiconductors. Both parties are striving for greater collaboration on research and development, enhancing skills in the semiconductor industry and promoting subsidy transparency. Reinforcement of the early warning system on supply chain disruption was another aspect they agreed on. This clever move will allow nations to stay prepared for any shortages should they emerge.

Behind the scenes of this agreement, there’s a clear signal: the need to establish autonomy and diversity in the global semiconductor supply chain. Reducing technical reliance on Chinese chip manufacturing is on the top of the priority list for some, including the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. She stated, “Economic security is a common concern for Japan and the EU. We share similar dependencies, and we both need to de-risk our supply chains. One of our objectives is to reduce overreliance on a handful of suppliers – many of them based in China.”

But that’s not all; the EU and Japan envisage strengthening their cooperation in other areas too, primarily focusing on cutting-edge issues like generative artificial intelligence, quantum computing, data governance, and cybersecurity. A follow-up meeting of the Japan-EU Digital Partnership Council co-chairs is planned for 2024 to assess the progress of these partnerships.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, these step-by-step initiatives generate increased digital security discussions among lawmakers, industries, and tech advocates.

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