As little as a year ago few experts would probably anticipate the fifth-generation telecommunication network development issue along with 5G vendor choice to become an acid test for new geopolitical and geoeconomic alignments of states and regions.

Today, it is obvious that the pillar of power, might, and agency that global actors may have is the technological potential they possess. The import of digital dimension for overall strategic autonomy is undeniable. Digital capacity building was identified by Brussels decision-makers as a key objective. Certain results of how this policy is being put into action are already evident – EU Digital Single Market, cybersecurity capacity building, increasing citizens’ digital competences, to mention a few.

In light of the above, the solution to the 5G dilemma is simple, although very difficult to achieve in practice. Instead of constantly thinking whether to join forces with Washington or Beijing, the EU should follow the principle of strategic autonomy, that is make the generational transition on its own terms and using its own resources wherever possible. The crux of the issue is not to postulate autarky, but rather to rationally strengthen one’s potential. Taking Trump administration labile politics towards radical Huawei sanctions into account, this attitude seems all the more right.

Before Europe starts to chart the course, however, it should ask itself a few painful questions and draw appropriate conclusions from the answers it finds: How did it happen that as Europeans we got to the point where the need to “follow” someone not quite on our own terms seems to be the only option? Izabela Albrycht – Chair of the Kosciuszko Institute and Joanna Świątkowska, PhD – CYBERSEC Programme Director in the policy brief present a new perspective on the current geopolitical situation through the prism of the development of the telecommunications network of the fifth generation and propose solutions based on the European potential and the strategy of digital autonomy.