The Public Sphere & Digital Sovereignty


In ‘The Public Sphere and Digital Sovereignty’, a subproject of Digital Europe 2030, an interdisciplinary group of experts designed possible futures for Europe. Over a series of workshops, they developed several multistage scenarios with a focus on ways that the political public sphere might change in the digital age. What structural changes are occurring in the European public sphere? How are phenomena like fragmentation and polarisation unfolding in European societies? In the future, how will democracies address attempts to interfere in elections and destabilise society, which sometimes originate with state actors?

The legitimation of democratic politics is a fundamental condition of European democracy. This project focused on how this legitimation could or should develop by 2030 in the context of digitalisation. How legitimation develops will depend greatly on social and political will.

The three scenarios that were developed are set out in detail in a publication that accompanied the project. 


Over a series of workshops in the spring and summer of 2020, we worked with an interdisciplinary group of experts to discuss the complex issues surrounding digitalisation and the transformation of the public sphere.

The methodology of the scenario-building process was overseen by Dr Johannes Gabriel (Foresight Intelligence). An interdisciplinary sounding board supported the working group by providing quality control and helping to publicise the results to relevant groups and institutions.

Please feel free to contact Alexandra Hunger with any enquiries.


Show content of Amiri, Natalie

Sounding Board

Natalie Amiri is a radio and television journalist. Between 2015 and 2020, she was the head of the ARD studio in Tehran. She was nominated for the German Television Award 2019 in the category “Best Information: Foreign Reporter”.

Show content of Böhnke, Olaf


Sounding Board

Olaf Böhnke is Berlin Director of the Alliance of Democracies. He previously worked in the German Bundestag for many years and is an expert on European and foreign policy issues.

Show content of Bornschein, Christoph

Sounding Board

As CEO and Founder of the German digital business agency group TLGG, Christoph Bornschein counsels international companies and brands in the strategic use of digital technologies. He is also an author of numerous professional articles, a sought-after speaker at conferences and conventions and a member of several advisory boards.

Show content of Clüver Ashbrook, Cathryn

Sounding Board

Dr. Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook is a German and American national and the founding Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), which examines the challenges to negotiation and statecraft in the 21st century.

Show content of De Clerck-Sachsse, Julia

Expert Group

Dr. Julia De Clerck-Sachsse is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States specializing in transatlantic relations, EU foreign and security policy, and foreign policy strategy. She is currently leading a research project on the EU’s geopolitical narrative as an academic visitor at Oxford University.

Show content of Diez, Georg

Expert Group

Georg Diez is writer and journalist. His latest book Power to the People (co-authored with Emanuel Heisenberg) deals with the potential for technology to revitalize democracy. He is editor-in-chief at The New Institute, which was founded in Hamburg in 2020.

Show content of Exner, Maria

Sounding Board

Since July 2020, Maria Exner has been Deputy Editor-in-Chief of ZEITmagazin. Before that, she was Deputy Editor-in-Chief of ZEIT ONLINE, where she was responsible among other things for special editorial projects such as "Germany speaks" (Deutschland spricht). 

Show content of Gabriel, Johannes

Methodological Lead

Dr. Johannes Gabriel is the founder and managing director of Foresight Intelligence, an organizational consultancy specialized in strategic foresight. For more than ten years, he has conducted long-term policy planning processes for the German government, designed intercultural and multi-stakeholder strategic dialogues for leading think tanks, and advised MNCs in organizational development and strategy projects. He is a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies and teaches foresight methods in its Global Risk program.

Show content of Gnath, Katharina

Expert Group

Dr. Katharina Gnath is a Senior Project Manager at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, specializing in EU economic governance and the future of the European Monetary Union.

Show content of Hillje, Johannes

Expert Group

Johannes Hillje is a political and communications consultant working in Berlin and Brussels. In 2014, he managed the EU election campaign of the European Green Party.

Show content of Hochkirchen, Fabiola

Expert Group

Fabiola Hochkirchen, Managing Director at AUXXO Beteiligungen GmbH, is part of a three-woman team that co-founded AUXXO as angel-investors. The investment company is rooted in ideas of positive impact and sustainable growth.

Show content of Jaursch, Julian

Expert Group

Dr. Julian Jaursch is a project director at Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV), a not-for-profit tech policy think tank in Berlin. He analyzes and develops policy options to tackle disinformation and platform regulation at the German and EU levels.

Show content of Knodt, Joachim

Expert Group

Joachim Knodt is back in Berlin since July 2020 as Press Officer at the German Federal Foreign Office. Previously, his work was dedicated to digital themes in Moscow and Brussels - with the International Cyber Policy Coordination Staff as well as, before that, Google and a strategic consulting firm in Berlin.

Show content of Leonhardt, Paul

Expert Group

Paul Leonhardt is Deputy Head of Division 607 in the Strategic Communications Department of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Show content of Litt, Constanze Maria

Expert Group

Constanze Maria Litt is the Coordinator for Interinstitutional Relations at the Directorate-General for Budget of the European Comission in Brussels. Previously, she worked as Director of the pan-European media network EURACTIV.

Show content of Novy, Leonard

Expert Group

Dr. Leonard Novy is an author, strategy consultant, and director of the Institute for Media and Communications Policy (IfM), a think tank providing research and advice on media policy, journalism, and political communication.

Show content of Parsons, Clark

Expert Group

Clark Parsons leads the Internet Economy Foundation as Managing Director. An American, he has lived in Berlin since 1998, where he co-founded Vortel GmbH and was long-standing Managing Director of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Show content of Puglierin, Jana

Expert Group

Dr Jana Puglierin is the Head of the Berlin Office and a Senior Policy Fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) since January 2020. She also directs ECFR’s Rethink: Europe initiative, which explores and advances European cooperation in innovative ways.

Show content of Ritter, Teresa

Expert Group

Teresa Ritter works since mid-2020 for RSBG ICT, a subsidiary of the RAG-Stiftung which invests in companies whose products and services play a crucial role in global transformations. During the construction of the Digital Europe 2030 scenarios, she served as Head of Security Policy at the digital business association Bitkom.

Show content of Thiel, Thorsten

Expert Group

Since December 2017, Dr. Thorsten Thiel has been head of the research group "Democracy and Digitalisation" at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society. Additionally, he is a Research Fellow at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB).

Show content of Voelsen, Daniel

Expert Group

Dr. Daniel Voelsen has been a Research Associate in the "Global Issues" division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs since 2017. He specializes in digital policy and cyber as well as political theory.

Show content of von Hammerstein, Elisabeth

Expert Group

Elisabeth von Hammerstein is Programme Direcor of International Affairs at the Körber-Stiftung, where she focuses on German foreign policy and European affairs.