Discussions on how to secure citizens’ digital rights (i.e., rights of privacy and online freedom of expression) are by now key features of the global debate on the governance of the internet. In the fast moving debate, where “old” governmental powers clash with corporate players and new actors gaining in influence, we are witnessing a significant increase in the number of European-led actions and initiatives. Specifically, the EU puts a pronounced emphasis on internet governance in its “digital agenda”. As a result, the European parliament, the European Commission and other institutions are increasingly seen as an emerging actor in this policy field.
The increased international engagement of EU institutions calls for expanding our understanding of the role Europe plays in the international internet governance debate, and why it matters, if at all. Moreover, the question of whether a consistent and unitary European internet governance agenda is possible, remains. Given the complexity of internal decision making structures, and the politicised and cross-cutting character of internet governance, the EU is not short on challenges. It will grapples with these in order to enhance its legitimacy and produce tangible outcomes that may be translated into rights-based deliverables.
The panel scrutinises the role of the EU in international negotiations over internet governance, with an emphasis on two issues: cyber security and, data protection/privacy. Particularly, the focus will be on exploring tangible outcomes so far obtained by EU initiatives, as well as future perspectives, while addressing the major obstacles that EU institutions will face in order to enhance their legitimacy and to lead a consistent agenda.
The panel will answer the following key questions:
- Where do we find Europe in the fast developing global internet governance;
- How are contentious internet governance issues reflected in the EU agenda?
- How does the European internet governance agenda differ from those of other actors?
By tackling these overarching questions, a significant cross-cut of which unfolds on the Internet Policy Review, this panel will make an insightful contribution to whether a EU-specific understanding of internet governance exists, and expand our understanding of the EU in the world by providing novel inputs on a potent topic with long-term implications.