In the European Union, a broad and sometimes emotional debate on digital sovereignty and autonomy has emerged in the digital and security policy community in recent years. The Franco-German idea of the European cloud service Gaia-X can be cited as a lighthouse project in this context. The problem analysis focuses on the dependence on infrastructures and services of foreign, especially U.S. companies, but how to deal with Chinese companies also plays a growing, albeit different, role, as the 5G debate shows. The accelerating impact of the Corona pandemic on this set of issues, on the one hand, and the escalating tension between the European quest for technological autonomy and the simultaneous need for multilateral approaches, on the other, could breathe new life into transatlantic digital diplomacy.
The Digital Services and Digital Markets Act, the Chips Act, the AI Act, and the Data Act are just some of the legislative projects through which the EU intends to remain globally competitive as a regulatory power. However, in order to live up to this claim in the long term, the EU must balance the diverse interests of its member states and the close economic ties with the USA.
Against this backdrop, the Aspen Institute Germany, in cooperation with Microsoft Berlin, organized several events with U.S., German and European representatives from politics, business, academia, and civil society. The aim is (1) took a closer look at the industrial, regulatory, and individualistic perspectives of digital sovereignty; (2) to lay the foundations for a common debate on foreign policy values and security policy perspectives with a view to critical infrastructures. Based on this, a foundation for the transatlantic digital policy agenda of the coming years is to be worked out.
Previous guests included Mario Brandenburg, member of the German Bundestag and Spokesperson on Technology Policy of the Free Democratic Party Germany, Jeff Bullwinkel, Associate General Counsel and Director of Corporate, External & Legal Affairs at Microsoft Europe, Dr. Frances G. Burwell, Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and Senior Director at McLarty Associates, and Ambassador Dr. Hinrich Thölken, Director for Climate and Energy Policy and Digital Transformation at the German Federal Foreign Office, Tobias Bacherle, Member of the German Bundestag (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Tyson Barker, Head of Technology and Global Affairs at the German Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Marianne Janik, Area Vice President at Microsoft Germany, Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital at The Aspen Institute U.S.