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Does the EU’s digital sovereignty promote localisation in its model digitial trade clauses?

Fahey, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-2603-5300 (2023). Does the EU’s digital sovereignty promote localisation in its model digitial trade clauses?. European Papers, 8(2), pp. 503-511. doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/670


The EU increasingly advocates a message of tech or digital sovereignty as its future, which appears to align closely with the concept of strategic autonomy. Arguably digital sovereignty has a highly differentiated understanding in the EU as opposed to the US or China. Increasingly, many suggest EU digital sover-eignty in the era of the GDPR is a high protectionist idea. Yet the EU has de-termined that external relations should not be at the cost of sacrificing EU da-ta protection standards. The links of sovereignty to localisation in the context of digital trade are increasingly problematic for the EU as it seeks to reconcile high standards in the post GDPR era. The EU faced complex critique for the CJEU Schrems II ruling, for the emphasis that it places upon data localisation directly or indirectly and the manner in which it appears to awkwardly cham-pion digital sovereignty, particularly where several EU member states practice similar levels of surveillance. The EU has developed model clauses in digital trade balancing its high GDPR standards and its external relations ambitions. The piece considers the concepts of localisation as a development of digital sovereignty in the EU’s international economic law trajectory. Arguably, the model clauses here turn out to be a template of flexibility not absolutism. Whether the EU’s model horizontal clauses reconciling the GDPR and interna-tional economic law goals cause difficult for future public policy or ultimately undermine the EU’s goals as to liberalising data flows remains to be seen.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Publisher Keywords: Digital sovereignty; localisation; Digital trade; CJEU; Data protection
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
SWORD Depositor:
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