ASTK18446U Europe’s quest for ‘digital sovereignty’: Exploring EU in the global tech race
Full-degree students enrolled at the Department of Political Science, UCPH
MSc in Political Science
MSc in Social Science
MSc in Security Risk Management
Bachelor in Political Science
Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH
MSc in Social Data Science
The course is open to:
Exchange and Guest students from abroad
Since the creation of the von der Leyen Commission in 2019, ‘digital sovereignty’ has become a buzzword feeding into the European tech agenda, shaping EU digital policy decisions, and legitimizing new legislative proposals of tech policy issues ranging from competition to content moderation, cybersecurity, privacy, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Nevertheless, ‘digital sovereignty’ remains a multifaceted and contested concept. In this course, the students will learn about the different meanings of the concept: theoretically, by exploring a wide range of literature within the intersection between International Relations (IR), EU studies, and tech policy; and empirically, through case studies and insights from practitioners.
Throughout the course the students will gain knowledge of how ‘digital sovereignty’ challenges the traditional territorial understanding of sovereignty and state-centric ideas of international order leading to a discussion of what happens when the ‘digital’ meets the IR concept ‘sovereignty’. We will examine the state-like power of big tech corporations and the geopolitical implications of their ability to provide security, welfare, and perhaps, sovereignty. Next, the students will analyze formal and informal negotiations of digital policy and tech legislation during the EU policymaking process looking into the role of the EU institutions, tech corporations and civil society organizations in the global tech debate. The students will assess the content of tech legislation uncovering EU’s claims to ‘digital sovereignty’ and explore EU’s position in the global tech race with the United States (US) and China. Examples of cases of tech legislation could include the AI Act, Data Act, the Cyber Resilience Act, the Digital Markets Act (DMA)/Digital Services Act (DSA) or the Chips Act.
The course consists of three pillars. First, exploring the traditional understanding of sovereignty and assess how the digital age reframes the role of state, borders, and territory. Second, uncovering the concept of ‘digital sovereignty’ in EU policymaking by delving into formal and informal negotiations of specific legislative proposals. This part will be supported by practical insight from both the public and private sector working with the European tech agenda. Third, contextualizing Europe’s self-understanding of ‘digital sovereignty’ with the US and China.
An essential element of this course is gaining insights from practitioners working with the European tech agenda representing either public or private entities both inside and outside of the EU institutions. Furthermore, the teaching will be research-based and include lectures from academics at the Department of Political Science
By the end of this course, the successful student will have gained a deeper knowledge of:
- The theoretical challenges rising when the term ‘digital’ meets the IR concept ‘sovereignty’
- The multifaceted and contested meanings of ‘digital sovereignty’ as presented, discussed, and negotiated by EU institutions, tech corporations and civil society organizations
- The formal and informal sites for negotiation tech legislation in EU policymaking gaining insights from practitioners working inside or outside the EU institutions
- EU’s self-understanding of ‘digital sovereignty’ and position in the global tech race with US and China
Trained their skills of:
- Evaluating the state-like power of big tech corporations and assessing the geopolitical implications of their role in the global tech debate
- Analyzing the formal and informal negotiations of tech legislation during the policymaking process of empirical cases of digital policy and tech legislative proposals
- Reflecting on EU’s vision for becoming a global tech regulator and comparing Europe’s role in the global tech race with the US and China
And be able to:
- Discuss the multifaceted and contested meanings of ‘digital sovereignty’ from a theoretical and empirical perspective
- Analyze the formal and informal negotiations of tech legislation during the EU policymaking process between EU institutions, tech corporations and civil society organizations uncovering EU’s claims to ‘digital sovereignty’
- Engage competently in both academic, policy and practitioner debates on the European tech agenda
7,5 ECTS: 900-1200 pages. Below is a tentative reading list. The full literature will be published two weeks to a month before the beginning of the course.
Bellamy, R. (ed) (2006) ‘Sovereignty, post-sovereignty and pre-sovereignty: three models of the state, democracy and rights within the EU’. In Constitutionalism and Democracy (London: Routledge), pp. 547-570.
Bradford, A. (2020) The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Bremmer, I. (2021) ‘The Technopolar Moment: How Digital Powers Will Reshape the Global Order’. Foreign Affairs. Available at: «https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-10-19/ian-bremmer-big-tech-global-order».
Celeste, E. (2021) ‘Digital Sovereignty in the EU: Challenges and Future Perspectives’. In Fabbrini, F., Celeste, E. and Quinn, J. (eds) Data Protection Beyond Borders: Transatlantic Perspectives on Extraterritoriality and Sovereignty (Oxford: Hart Publishing), pp. 211-228.
Fairbank, N. A. (2019) ‘The State of Microsoft? The Role of Corporations in International Norm Creation’. Journal of Cyber Policy, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 380–403.
Faludi, A. (2016) ‘EU territorial cohesion a contradiction in terms’. Planning Theory & Practice, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 302-313.
Floridi, L. (2020) ‘The Fight for Digital Sovereignty: What It Is, and Why It Matters, Especially for the EU’. Philosophy & Technology, Vol. 33, pp. 369–378
Giddens, A (2020) ‘Foreword’, In Europe’s Digital Sovereignty, Hobbs, C. (ed). ECFR. Available here: «https://ecfr.eu/archive/page//europe_digital_sovereignty_rulemaker_superpower_age_us_china_rivalry.pdf».
Glasze, G., Cattaruzza, A., Douzet, F., Dammann, F., Bertran, M. G., Bômont, C., Braun, M., Danet, D., Desforges, A., Géryb, A., Grumbach, S., Hummel, P., Limonier, K., Münßinger, M., Nicolai, F., Pétiniaud, L., Winkler, J. and Zanin, C. (2022) ‘Contested Spatialities of Digital Sovereignty’. Geopolitics, pp. 1-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2022.2050070
Lambach, D. (2020) ‘The Territorialization of Cyberspace’, International Studies Review, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 482–506.
Lambach, D., and Oppermann, K. (2022) ‘Narratives of digital sovereignty in German political discourse’. Governance, https://doi.org/10.1111/gove.12690,
Pohle, J. and Thiel, T. (2020) ‘Digital sovereignty’. Internet Policy Review, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 1–19.
Roberts, H., Cowls, J., Casolari, F., Morley, J., Taddeo, M., and Floridi, L. (2021) ‘Safeguarding European values with digital sovereignty: An analysis of statements and policies’. Internet Policy Review, Vol. 10, No. 3.
The student activities will vary from class to class but will include Padlet, short discussions in pairs or in small groups, non-stop writing exercises, and group presentations on cases of digital policy and tech legislation. The final decision on student activities will be based on what exercises will best prepare the students for both the midterm and final exam. The students will work with official documents from the European Commission, Parliament, and Council to better understand the complexity of the EU policymaking process and understand the content of tech legislation.
- Class Instruction
When registered you will be signed up for exam.
- Full-degree students – sign up at Selfservice on KUnet
- Exchange and guest students from abroad – sign up through Mobility Online and Selfservice
- Credit students from Danish universities - sign up through this website.
- Open University students - sign up through this website.
The dates for the exams are found here Exams – Faculty of Social Sciences - University of Copenhagen (ku.dk)
Please note that it is your own responsibility to check for overlapping exam dates.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Type of assessment details
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
- In the semester where the course takes place: Free written assignment
- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment
Criteria for exam assesment
Criteria for exam assessment:
Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner
- Course code
- 7,5 ECTS
- Full Degree MasterBachelor
- 1 semester
- Department of Political Science, Study Council
- Department of Political Science
- Social Data Science
- Faculty of Social Sciences
- Matilde Bro Hansen (4-6f646a63426b6875306d7730666d)
+45 35 32 67 99