Microphone in front of a big crowd

The team at the University of Innsbruck will analyze how the use of digital communication tools and forums can be leveraged to make political processes fit for the future and shape digital democracy in a way that is sensitive to human rights and promotes participation.

Ensur­ing resilient dig­i­tal democ­racy after the pan­demic

Together with 13 other universities, the University of Innsbruck has been awarded a €3 million project to research the big question of how Europe's societies can become more resilient after the pandemic. Matthias Kettemann and his team at the Department for Theory and Future of Law will lead a work package on digital communication.

In addition to the immediate health crisis, the COVID 19 pandemic also presents itself as a political and social crisis: The rise of disinformation, populism and extremism threaten liberal democracy in the EU member states. The REGROUP project (Rebuilding governance and resilience out of the pandemic) aims to assess these risks in more detail and provide the EU with concrete paths forward for necessary reforms.

There is much to do, confirms project leader Dr. Piero Tortola from the University of Groningen: "We will look at the socio-political developments since the beginning of the pandemic and evaluate the legal measures to combat COVID 19". The recommendations for action to the EU will also focus on the major challenges of the 21st century with climate change, digitalisation and the reform of the economy towards more sustainability.

Prof. Matthias Kettemann and his team at the Department for Theory and Future of Law will lead a work package that focuses on the use of digital tools and platforms to promote the resilience of democratic society in postpandemic times. Prof. Kettemann: "We will trace the transformation of law into an instrument of future-oriented justice and social cohesion using the example of post-pandemic private and public governance of communication flows. Especially the regulation of (social media) platforms as important mediators of public debate play a major role here, so we will focus on fighting disinformation and promoting participation."

Dr. Piero Tortola from the University of Groningen (NL) leads a consortium of 14 partner universities from 11 European countries. Besides Groningen and the University of Innsbruck, these are: European University Institute (IT), LUISS Guido Carli (IT), Institut Jacques Delors (FR), Barcelona Centre for International Studies (ES), Dublin City University (IE), European Policy Centre (BE), University of Cyprus (CY), Uniwersytet Jagielloński (PL), Istituto Affari Internazionali (IT), Europa-Kolleg Hamburg (DE), Universitetet i Oslo (NO), and Universität Passau (DE). The project is scheduled for three years and will start on 1 September 2022. Funding is provided by the Horizon Europe funding line of the EU Commission.

This is Prof. Kettemann’s third project fourth project to start this year. He also leads projects on democratizing platform rules, developing an open source database to analyze cybersecurity incidents, and on the impact of the social media on the way young people develop their identities.

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