“Digital Sovereignty” is a term frequently used in political debates on the national and European level. What is meant by this? How can the EU be capable of asserting its own values and legal systems in a digital policy?

The debate on “Digital Sovereignty” is not sufficiently based on evidence at the present time. To date, there has been a lack of both concepts for ascertaining Germany’s and the EU’s actual degree of dependence on third countries and the political desire to determine this. This means that a conceptual response to the problem of dependence is also missing. Nonetheless, Europe is still in a fundamentally better position than it was a few months ago – and does not necessarily have to face the issue on its own.

The policy brief “Digital Sovereignty in the EU” initially addresses the background and evolution of digitalisation, then outlines Digital Sovereignty as a concept for the European Union and lays out an approach for identifying and judging dependencies. The last part describes possible derived steps to be taken and the framework conditions for a digitally more sovereign European Union and the conditions to be established for this within the EU.

If European competencies and common goods are considered in the context of digitalisation, it is necessary to start by stating two aspects that need not be discussed further:

  1. Europe already has a Digital Single Market today, and it has also continued to work during the Coronavirus period.
  2. Individual EU Member States in and of themselves are to be considered too lightweight for any form of Digital Sovereignty.

The latter point shapes the character of Digital Sovereignty as a public good that is necessarily handled on the European level – solely in the framework of the EU do the Member States have the market and regulatory influence allowing for the design of digitalisation according to their own standards and values.

At the same time, many aspects of the debate on Digital Sovereignty should also be applicable to other areas where for strategic reasons it appears urgently necessary to have and build up the EU’s own capacities and competencies, rebalance dependencies and introduce a more conscious state of globalisation.

Here you can download the full policy brief “Digital Sovereignty in the EU”.

This text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License