A Vision for Digital Europe

From the taming of platforms to digital humanism - Watch the discussion with Thomas Gegenhuber, Maja Fjaestad, Jens Zimmermann and Karin Pettersson here. The seminar took place on the 23rd november 2020.

Digital platforms have become a part of our everyday life. Not only do they shape large parts of the commercial internet – they also rearrange traditional markets and industries. The road to a platform economy goes hand in hand with a strong concentration of market power. This poses dangers from the perspective of competition and democracy. The platform economy challenges the European economic and social welfare model in other ways as well. There are growing calls for regulation, so that small businesses have a chance on the market, consumers and workers are protected. But how do we tame these powerful platforms? 

In this web seminar we discussed a recent FES study written by Thomas Gegenhuber. The author argues that between the digital capitalism of the United States, driven by shareholder value, and the Chinese variant, which combines technological aptitude with state control, there should be room for an independent European vision: digital humanism. Regulation of platforms is an important first step. To realise a model of digitalisation that has "people at its heart", Europe will have to place digitalisation at the service of values such as equality, democracy and justice. This calls for a differentiated response, as different types of platforms require different regulatory strategies. To tame the platform economy, politicians in Europe must act in a resolute, but differentiated and coordinated manner. What is the vision of digital humanism? How do we reach it? What role do alternative public platforms play? How do we achieve fair competition? And how can it affect Europe’s competitiveness and economic growth?

We organised a seminar on the report "A vision for digital Europe: From the taming of unruly platforms to a new digital humanism" by Thomas Gegenhuber of Leuphana University Lüneburg.

 Download Publication here.

Watch the video on the seminar here

11:00 – 11:05

Welcome by Philipp Fink (Director, FES Nordic Countries)

11:10 – 11:30
Presentation of the report “A vision for digital Europe. From the taming of platforms to a form of digital humanism“ by Thomas Gegenhuber (Leuphana University Lüneburg) 

11:30 – 11:40
Comment by Maja Fjaestad, State Secretary, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs 

11:40 – 11:50
Comment by Jens Zimmermann (MP Member of the Committees on Digital Agenda and for Finance, digital policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group)

11:50 – 12:10
Discussion with Karin Pettersson (author and head of culture at Aftonbladet), with Thomas Gegenhuber, Jens Zimmermann and Maja Fjaestad

12:10 – 12:15
Wrap-up & End

Moderation: German Bender, Arena Idé


Thomas Gegenhuber is Junior professor of Business Management, in particular for digital transformation at Leuphana University Lüneburg.

Maja Fjaestad is State Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. Before she served as Head of Social Policy in the Swedish Municipal Workers’ Union. She worked also as a researcher in the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, where she was awarded a PhD in technology in 2010.

Jens Zimmermann is member of the German Bundestag and there he is member of the Committees on Digital Agenda. In addition to that he is the digital policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group.

German Bender is head of labor market and education policy at Arena Idé, and PhD candidate at Stockholm School of Economics.


Arena Idé is a progressive non-partisan think tank, financed by the Swedish trade union movement (https://arenaide.se/om-oss/).

FES Nordic Countries is the office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung for the Nordic Region (nordics.fes.de).


FES Nordic Countries

Office/Postal Address
Barnhusgatan 10
111 23 Stockholm

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