Democracy by Design


Start-ups and tech companies have an important role to play in the digital transformation. With their applications and services, they’re shaping the data landscape of the future. They also have a direct influence on the organisation of society and our political discourse.

So how can we ensure that ethical and democratic values are reflected in the design of these new technologies? In Democracy by Design, the latest project in our Digital Europe 2030 series, we’re working closely with companies, industry associations and digital start-ups to identify specific action steps and develop a set of guidelines.


The project series Digital Europe 2030 was launched in 2019 to promote a digital transformation guided by principles of democracy, openness and a social market economy. Previous work in the series has included the scenario-building projects ‘The Public Sphere and Digital Sovereignty’ and ‘Data and Democracy’, based on which we formulated specific policy options to help build a digital Europe.

However, a strategic digital policy can’t just rely on regulation, it also needs support from companies, since it’s they who will set far-reaching standards through the design of their products and services. Whether or not these standards are aligned with democratic values and the public good will have a big impact on our digital ecosystem, from social media algorithms to AI-assisted applications for work and leisure. Companies’ willingness to design new technologies based on democratic and ethical values is at the heart of the principle democracy by design.


Just like earlier projects in the series, Digital Europe 2030: Democracy by Design will focus on collaboration between civil society, industry and the public sector. In the first phase of the project, based on expert interviews the project defines principles that should govern the design of future technologies, such as those based on algorithms or AI.

This will then be followed by a series of workshops with companies, industry associations and start-ups in which participants will identify specific steps that their own organisations can take, as well as key measures for the economy as a whole. Based on the findings from these workshops, a prototype toolkit will be developed that will put ‘Democracy by Design” into practice.

As part of the partnership with the Alliance for Democracies Foundation, interim results will be shared and discussed with an international expert audience at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit from 15 to 16 May 2023.

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Alexandra Hunger.