Reframing Digital Europe

Last week, October 3rd and 4th, Commons Network, Kennisland and Centrum Cyfrowe hosted a workshop in Amsterdam on ‘reframing digital Europe’. We brought together hackers, policy wonks, commons and open activists, tech developers and academics from all over Europe, for one question: can we reframe the discourse on a digital society?

The digitalisation of society has led much of our interaction, communication and economic activity to take place through data or over online intermediaries. What kind of space should this digital sphere be?

Seeing this space as just a market place definitely does not do it justice. Our entire society is experiencing a digital transformation. We cannot accept that the digital sphere is a place where market dynamics determine the rules. Society is more than an interaction between market players, and we are citizens, rather than users or consumers.

Yet today, most policy discussions in Europe that are related to digital rights (including copyright), Internet governance, surveillance and data management in the EU take place within the framework established by the European Union’s Digital Single Market (DSM) initiative.

It is high time to change this narrative. To bring citizens, the public interest and public services, and the commons into the picture. Discussing digital policy questions within this framework reduces many of these issues to questions about the proper functioning of markets. It also isolates policymaking in the digital space from the existing traditions of policymaking for offline public spaces in the areas of culture, education or civil infrastructure in general. And as such, from growing social trends of online and offline cooperation in the areas of education, culture and science.

Within the reframe [digital Europe] project we have set ourselves the objective to develop an alternative policy frame for digital policymaking in the European Union that can replace the existing “Digital Single Market” frame.

With 20 participants in academia, policy, activism and tech from across Europe, but also from Brussels, the heart of European policy making, we spent two days fleshing out what would be the underlying concepts and narratives of such a frame. We asked ourselves what will work in the institutions? What will resonate politically? What narrative best accommodates our concerns? We are quite pleased with the results and look forward to sharing our ideas with all of you very soon.

To be continued.




Want to join the conversation? Reach out to us at thomas [at] or drop us a line on Twitter at @CommonsNetwork.