‘Buffering’ the US-China Tech Rivalry: The EU Strategy in the Era of Technological Competition

Anno LVII, n. 233, gennaio-aprile 2022
Centro Einaudi
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Technology has always been an important factor for assessing a state’s international leadership and its strategic autonomy. As a key variable in the ‘security dilemma’, technology, and its application, influences polarity and is a crucial variable in comprehending the intricacies of international alignments in an era of great-power competition. By focusing on balancing and its cognates approaches, traditional realist analysis has proven insufficient to fully account for the EU’s strategies in the struggle for technological power and sovereignty. While ‘buck-passing’ and ‘chain ganging’ perspectives may shed some light on the EU’s foreign relations under multipolarity, ‘buffering’ better explains the EU’s positioning vis-à-vis US-China tech rivalry, in an era still dominated by the US hegemony. The case of the EU’s ‘buffering’ approach is illustrated here by the empirical evidence of EU initiatives over semiconductor technology, fundamental for its strategic autonomy. The research will also inflate the academic debate revolving around the EU’s attempt to ascend as new ‘defence technological power’ and how trade politicisation has also reached the security domain.