A missing policy frame for shaping Europe’s digital future
The article Digital Public Space - A missing policy frame for shaping Europe’s digital future is Open Future's contribution to Building a European Digital Public Space - Strategies for taking back control from Big Tech platforms, a book edited by Aleksander Baratsits and Published by iRights Media in November 2021.
This text builds on our earlier work on policy frames that shape European digital strategies, including our concept of Shared Digital Europe policy frame and analyses of the Digital Compass program. We argue that we not only need to look beyond the market-driven Digital Single Market strategy, but also the current policy package, which can be defined as Europe’s “digital constitutionalist turn”. One more turn is needed, towards a Digital Public Sphere policy frame.
We use the concept of policy frames to analyse the core goals and approaches of current and previous European digital policies. We track a shift from the Digital Single Market frame, championed by the previous Commission, to a new approach established by Ursula von der Leyen and her Commission through the Shaping Europe’s Digital Future strategy. This shift is a digital constitutionalist turn, characterized by a bold policy reform program that aims to fix digital markets.
Yet Europe’s digital strategy still lacks a clear policy frame. We propose that the strategy could be strengthened by policies based on the vision of a digital public sphere. Introducing this policy frame, accompanied by a mission-driven approach, would help attain the current twin-transition ambition of the European Commission: a digital and green transformation.