• Digital Europe 2030

    The Public Sphere & Digital Sovereignty

What is Digital Europe 2030: The Public Sphere & Digital Sovereignty?

In the run-up to the German presidency of the Council of the European Union in the year 2020, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft launched the project series Digital Europe 2030 by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of experts to systematically design possible futures for Europe in a scenario process. During and after the presidency, the resulting scenarios were further discussed in transfer workshops with decision makers from politics and business with a view to developing strategic options for action. The special focus of the project “Digital Europe 2030” lay on the fundamental transformation of the political sphere in the digital age. This was also considered in the context of Europe's digital sovereignty.

Why Digital Europe 2030: The Public Sphere & Digital Sovereignty?

At the beginning of the digital transformation, the unlimited availability of knowledge and information, as well as the possibility of transparency and participation, seemed to represent a great opportunity for Europe's free and open societies. Meanwhile, not only the opportunities are evident, but also considerable challenges.

The project focused on the question of how the public sphere could or should develop under digital conditions by 2030 as a prerequisite for political decision-making and thus for the legitimation of democratic politics. This is no less than one of the basic requirements of European democracies.

How does Digital Europe 2030 work?

In a series of digital workshops during the spring and summer of 2020, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft - together with an interdisciplinary working group -constructed three visions of the future development of a political public sphere and of digital sovereignty in Europe until the year 2030. To this end, the group discussed various complex issues: How is the structural transformation of the public sphere in Europe proceeding? How do phenomena such as fragmentation and polarization develop in European societies? In the future, how will democracies deal with targeted interference in elections and with societal destabilisation through disinformation, which might also be driven by state actors? What margins for action will political agents in Europe have in the face of the rivalry between the digital superpowers and the power of large corporations? How can Europe be sovereign in this environment, i.e., how can it develop the ability to act independently and in accordance with its own values and interests in the digital realm? By discussing these and other questions, the working group derived concrete recommendations for action in the present.

Three scenarios were developed in these workshops and can be downloaded here.

The scenario process took place under the methodological direction of Dr. Johannes Gabriel (Foresight Intelligence). An interdisciplinary Sounding Board has accompanied the project in an advisory capacity in order to add to quality assurance and to help communicate the results wherever relevant.

Starting in the autumn of 2021, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft has launched a new iteration of the project series entitled “Digital Europa 2030: Data & Democracy”. Please read more here.

For further information please contact Samuel Walker.

The contributors to this project are:

Show content of Amiri, Natalie

Sounding Board

Natalie Amiri is a radio and television journalist. Between 2015 and 2020, she was the head of the ARD studio in Tehran. She was nominated for the German Television Award 2019 in the category “Best Information: Foreign Reporter”.

Show content of Böhnke, Olaf


Sounding Board

Olaf Böhnke is Berlin Director of the Alliance of Democracies. He previously worked in the German Bundestag for many years and is an expert on European and foreign policy issues.

Show content of Bornschein, Christoph

Sounding Board

As CEO and Founder of the German digital business agency group TLGG, Christoph Bornschein counsels international companies and brands in the strategic use of digital technologies. He is also an author of numerous professional articles, a sought-after speaker at conferences and conventions and a member of several advisory boards.

Show content of Clüver Ashbrook, Cathryn

Sounding Board

Dr. Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook is a German and American national and the founding Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), which examines the challenges to negotiation and statecraft in the 21st century.

Show content of De Clerck-Sachsse, Julia

Expert Group

Dr. Julia De Clerck-Sachsse is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States specializing in transatlantic relations, EU foreign and security policy, and foreign policy strategy. She is currently leading a research project on the EU’s geopolitical narrative as an academic visitor at Oxford University.

Show content of Diez, Georg

Expert Group

Georg Diez is writer and journalist. His latest book Power to the People (co-authored with Emanuel Heisenberg) deals with the potential for technology to revitalize democracy. He is editor-in-chief at The New Institute, which was founded in Hamburg in 2020.

Show content of Exner, Maria

Sounding Board

Since July 2020, Maria Exner has been Deputy Editor-in-Chief of ZEITmagazin. Before that, she was Deputy Editor-in-Chief of ZEIT ONLINE, where she was responsible among other things for special editorial projects such as "Germany speaks" (Deutschland spricht). 

Show content of Gabriel, Johannes

Methodological Lead

Dr. Johannes Gabriel is the founder and managing director of Foresight Intelligence, an organizational consultancy specialized in strategic foresight. For more than ten years, he has conducted long-term policy planning processes for the German government, designed intercultural and multi-stakeholder strategic dialogues for leading think tanks, and advised MNCs in organizational development and strategy projects. He is a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies and teaches foresight methods in its Global Risk program.

Show content of Gnath, Katharina

Expert Group

Dr. Katharina Gnath is a Senior Project Manager at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, specializing in EU economic governance and the future of the European Monetary Union.

Show content of Hillje, Johannes

Expert Group

Johannes Hillje is a political and communications consultant working in Berlin and Brussels. In 2014, he managed the EU election campaign of the European Green Party.

Show content of Hochkirchen, Fabiola

Expert Group

Fabiola Hochkirchen, Managing Director at AUXXO Beteiligungen GmbH, is part of a three-woman team that co-founded AUXXO as angel-investors. The investment company is rooted in ideas of positive impact and sustainable growth.

Show content of Jaursch, Julian

Expert Group

Dr. Julian Jaursch is a project director at Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV), a not-for-profit tech policy think tank in Berlin. He analyzes and develops policy options to tackle disinformation and platform regulation at the German and EU levels.

Show content of Knodt, Joachim

Expert Group

Joachim Knodt is back in Berlin since July 2020 as Press Officer at the German Federal Foreign Office. Previously, his work was dedicated to digital themes in Moscow and Brussels - with the International Cyber Policy Coordination Staff as well as, before that, Google and a strategic consulting firm in Berlin.

Show content of Leonhardt, Paul

Expert Group

Paul Leonhardt is Deputy Head of Division 607 in the Strategic Communications Department of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Show content of Litt, Constanze Maria

Expert Group

Constanze Maria Litt is the Coordinator for Interinstitutional Relations at the Directorate-General for Budget of the European Comission in Brussels. Previously, she worked as Director of the pan-European media network EURACTIV.

Show content of Novy, Leonard

Expert Group

Dr. Leonard Novy is an author, strategy consultant, and director of the Institute for Media and Communications Policy (IfM), a think tank providing research and advice on media policy, journalism, and political communication.

Show content of Parsons, Clark

Expert Group

Clark Parsons leads the Internet Economy Foundation as Managing Director. An American, he has lived in Berlin since 1998, where he co-founded Vortel GmbH and was long-standing Managing Director of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Show content of Puglierin, Jana

Expert Group

Dr Jana Puglierin is the Head of the Berlin Office and a Senior Policy Fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) since January 2020. She also directs ECFR’s Rethink: Europe initiative, which explores and advances European cooperation in innovative ways.

Show content of Ritter, Teresa

Expert Group

Teresa Ritter works since mid-2020 for RSBG ICT, a subsidiary of the RAG-Stiftung which invests in companies whose products and services play a crucial role in global transformations. During the construction of the Digital Europe 2030 scenarios, she served as Head of Security Policy at the digital business association Bitkom.

Show content of Thiel, Thorsten

Expert Group

Since December 2017, Dr. Thorsten Thiel has been head of the research group "Democracy and Digitalisation" at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society. Additionally, he is a Research Fellow at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB).

Show content of Voelsen, Daniel

Expert Group

Dr. Daniel Voelsen has been a Research Associate in the "Global Issues" division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs since 2017. He specializes in digital policy and cyber as well as political theory.

Show content of von Hammerstein, Elisabeth

Expert Group

Elisabeth von Hammerstein is Programme Direcor of International Affairs at the Körber-Stiftung, where she focuses on German foreign policy and European affairs.

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