The Twin Transitions: The EU’s Climate and Digital Policies


Timo Seidl


October 2, 2023

Course Description

Climate change and digitalization undoubtedly pose two of the most important challenges for the European Union. They will, as Commission President von der Leyen put it, “affect us all, wherever we live, whatever we do”. Global warming is expected to cause (and is already causing) unprecedented disruptions to the earth’s climate and may ultimately render parts of the globe inhospitable to human life. Digitalization, meanwhile, is transforming the ways we work, dwell, travel, consume, communicate, and inform ourselves; and promises - or threatens - to usher in even more fundamental changes. The EU has reacted to these challenges with a slew of policies and policy initiatives. The European Green Deal wants to make Europe climate neutral until 2050; the General Data Protection Regulation is meant to push back against ‘surveillance capitalism’ and make EU law the gold standard for data protection globally; and the Digital Services and Markets Acts are meant to rein in Big Tech. In this course, we will take a closer look at the EU’s digital and environmental policies with a particular focus on the role of Austria and Austrian actors therein. After familiarizing ourselves with how the EU works, we will discuss recent political science research on the challenges of digitalization and climate change and on how the EU reacts to them. In our last session, we will hear directly from someone working at an Austrian ministry and their role in organizing and implementing EU industrial policy initiatives.