The European Commission has published a list of critical technologies which may be at risk from global rivals and which officials say should be protected at EU level.

The list is part of the EU's strategy to both avoid reliance on China for critical materials and to prevent the EU’s own technologies from being used by geo-political rivals to breach human rights or pose a risk to EU member states.

The strategy, dubbed "de-risking", is part of the EU’s response to both the Covid pandemic, when Europe ran short of protective equipment manufactured outside the EU, and its drive to prevent technology being copied by third countries, especially if it is being used for military, as well as civilian, purposes.

The list of technologies regarded as "critical" to Europe’s security include advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum and bio technologies.

Advanced semiconductors include microelectronics, photonics, high frequency chips and semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Artificial Intelligence technologies include high performance computing, cloud and edge computing, data analytics, computer vision, language processing and object recognition.

Quantum technologies include quantum computing, cryptography, communications, sensing and radar.

Biotechnologies include genetic modification, new genomic techniques, and synthetic biology.

The European Commission today said it would identify the risk across four categories which would govern whether or not a risk assessment was needed. Officials insist the strategy is not about using trade measures to block the sale of certain technologies.

The four categories include whether or not the sensitive technologies are used in supply chains, critical infrastructure, involve technology leakage or economic coercion.

"Technology is currently at the heart of geopolitical competition and the EU wants to be a player not a playground. And to be a player we need a united EU position which is based on a common assessment of the risks," said an EU official.

The Commission will seek feedback from Ireland and other member states on their views on critical technology, with a view to establishing 10 technology areas in total by next spring.