Digital Power Europe


Anke Obendiek & Timo Seidl


March 1, 2021

Course Description

In a rapidly digitalizing world, Europe has yet to find its place. Some observers, including many European officials, lament that Europe has failed to keep pace with the United States and China - the two digital superpowers. They point to the fact Europe has yet to produce its own digital champion (Spotify is neither an Amazon nor an Alibaba), and raise the specter of European irrelevance in a world where political and economic influence increasingly rest upon technological progress. Meanwhile, other observers, again including many European officials, paint a rosier picture. They point to the fact that the EU has become the de-jure and de-facto regulator of large swaths of the internet, and has established itself as the global vanguard of digital human rights (the GDPR being the most famous example in both cases). But what is the role that Europe can, does, and should play in this brave new world of digital platforms, big data and artificial intelligence? In this seminar, we probe this question more systematically, assessing the position of the EU has and the limits of this power, asking ourselves why Europe lags behind in some areas and why it leads in others, and evaluating the possibility and desirability of a third model of digitalization - parallel to or in competition with the United States’s market-driven laissez faire approach as well as China’s state-led autocratic model.