Articles by Shaun Riordan

About the Author

Shaun Riordan
Shaun Riordan is Director of the Department for Diplomacy and Cyberspace in the European Institute of International Studies and a senior visiting fellow of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, “Clingendael”. He is also an independent geopolitical risk consultant. A former British diplomat, he served in New York, Taiwan, Beijing and Madrid, as well as the departments of counter-terrorism and the Eastern Adriatic in the Foreign Office. Shaun has taught at diplomatic academies in the Dominican Republic, Spain, Armenia and Bulgaria. He is the author of “Cyberdiplomacy: Managing Security and Governance Online” (Polity, 2019), “Adios a la Diplomacia” (Siglo XXI, 2005) and “The New Diplomacy” (Polity, 2003). He maintains a blog ( and can be followed at @shaun_riordan
The fear of an accident is beginning to dominate Spanish society

Elections in Spain: Polls suggest centre-left government, but exact make-up remains uncertain

Shaun Riordan | Unless the polls are dramatically wrong, Pedro Sanchez´ socialist party (PSOE) will be by far the largest party after the Spanish general election on 28 April. Given that, there are three key questions for foreign observers: will the right wing bloc of the Partido Popular (PP), Ciudadanos and Vox secure an absolute majority of seats in the parliament? Will the combined vote of PSOE, the left wing Podemos and the Basque nationalists be sufficient to form a government without the support, active or passive, of the Catalan nationalists? How well will the far-right Vox do?

The European Non-Union And Brexit – Plus Ça Change …

Shaun Riordan | This week is billed as, yet another, crucial week in the Brexit process. Prime Minister May will yet again bring her withdrawal deal back to parliament. Little has changed since she last presented it, and it looks like being rejected again.

Banks need to rethink Cybersecurity

Banks need to rethink Cybersecurity

Shaun Riordan | Banks and other financial institutions are all too aware of the cybersecurity threat. They have lost millions in theft and fraud over the years. In response they have spent millions on technical measures to protect themselves, both perimeter and in depth defences. Such measures are necessary, but not sufficient.

Trump unchained: Danger ahead for Europe

Trump unchained: Danger ahead for Europe

Shaun Riordan | President Trump is in trouble. He lost control of the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections. But Trump is not like most US Presidents. Moreover, he knows that moderating his position will lose his base and consequently the 2020 election.This is all bad news for Europe. Germany’s economy is already teetering on the edge of recession. Tariffs on car exports to the US (not to mention a no deal Brexit) would push it over the edge, dragging the rest of Europe down with it.

Strategic plans: Stalin is back - in the board room

Strategic Plans: Stalin Is Back – In The Board Room

Shaun Riordan | It now appears obligatory for major companies to issue strategic plans explaining what they will do over the next two or three years, at least in Spain. Market analysts scramble to evaluate them, inventing “objective prices” on the basis of these evaluations. What neither the companies nor the analysts seem to understand is that “strategic plan” is an oxymoron. It is either a plan or it is a strategy. It cannot be both.

5G: the real reason behind US attacks on Huawei

5G: the real reason behind US attacks on Huawei

Last night the US Justice Department announced criminal charges against Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. These focus on the theft of intellectual property from the US and evading US sanctions against Iran. Also the US government has launched a ferocious campaign to persuade allies not to adopt Huawei’s 5G mobile phone technology.

May's Brexit strategy: avoid becoming the new Ramsay Mac

PM Theresa May’s Brexit Strategy: Avoid Becoming The New Ramsay Mac

Theresa May wants to secure an orderly withdrawal from the EU (she was a lukewarm remainer in the Brexit referendum). But she also wants to hold her political party together. She does not want to be the Prime Minister which breaks the Conservative Party. Above all she does not want to be the new Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister in 1924, who saved the national economy, but split the party.

Do companies understand the dangers of Big Data?

Do Companies Understand The Dangers Of Big Data?

BBVA has announced that it is creating a team of 2,000 data scientists to develop new digital products and services. It is only one of the many companies jumping on the Big Data waggon. But do these companies understand the dangers of Big Data analysis, and in particular the algorithms that underlie them?

Geopolitical risks for 2019

Let’s Get Real About The Geopolitics Of 2019 Markets

Shaun Riordan | I have been reading a whole series of market forecasts for 2019. While it is relieving that at last they include political or geopolitical factors, I was struck by those factors, which could have dramatic impact on companies or markets which were left out, or misinterpreted.