Research event

European digital sovereignty: A new vision for global digital connectivity?

A presentation by Dr. Julia Pohle (WZB and Brussels School of Governance). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance.

“Digital sovereignty” has become a key principle in European digital policy debates. In order to better understand the popularity of this concept, this presentation seeks to link digital sovereignty claims to different types of dependency that shape our digital world, and to particular shifts in the belief system that underlies our perception of global digital connectivity. Instead of characterising a politico-economic or geopolitical strategy, I argue that “digital sovereignty” represents a socio-technical imaginary as it expresses a collective and institutionalised vision of a desirable future built on a particular socio-political and technological order. As such, it differs from the US-inspired liberal socio-technical imaginary of a free, open and decentralised global Internet. In European digital policy, the digital sovereignty imaginary has performative and material consequences as measures and policies that seek to strengthen digital sovereignty are starting to be adopted and implemented. However, as there is still a wide variety of (often unrealistic) competing expectations attached to it, the increasingly powerful imaginary of digital sovereignty remains contested, multifacetted, and dynamic.

Julia Pohle is a senior researcher in the research group “Politics of Digitalisation” at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and a Senior Associate Researcher at the Center for Digitalisation, Democracy and Innovation at the Brussels School of Governance. Her research focuses on discourses and narratives in international and national digital policy debates, and on the shifting role of nation states in shaping global communication governance. She currently serves as chair for communication policy and technology at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and as academic editor of the journal Internet Policy Review.

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