Beyond federated data: a data commoning proposition for the EU’s citizen-centric digital strategy

Stefano Calzati*, Bastiaan van Loenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In various official documents, the European Union has declared its goal to pursue a citizen-centric governance of digital transformation. Through a critical review of several of these documents, here we show how “citizen-centric” is more a glamouring than a driving concept. De facto, the EU is enabling a federated data system that is corporate-driven, economic-oriented, and GDPR-compliant; in other words, a Digital Single Market (DSM). This leaves out societal and collective-level dimensions of digital transformation—such as social inclusion, digital sovereignty, and environmental sustainability—which are acknowledged, but not operationalized, by the EU as pillars of a citizen-centric governance. Hence, the door is open to a complementary approach to the governance of digital transformation. We argue that, while a federated data model can constitute the tech-legal backbone of the emerging DSM, a commoning of data, as an ecosystemic approach that maintains a societal and collective outlook by default, can represent a complement to enact a truly citizen-centric governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAI and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Citizen-centric
  • Data commons
  • Data governance
  • Digital single market
  • EU digital strategy
  • Federated data

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