17 Jun 2021

RELAY workshop: A Europe fit for the digital age

Data-driven technologies are changing nearly every aspect of our lives, from how we work, learn, eat, sleep, vote, listen to music, watch films and TV, choose partners, communicate with friends and family, get the news. It’s hard to think of a single facet of contemporary life that is not being changed by big data analytics, machine-learning, algorithmic decision-making, and support systems.

Whether we like it or not, these changes are also bringing about visible social, economic, and political transformations. It may not be a stretch to say that these technologies have the possibility to alter not just how we behave, but how we understand ourselves and the social world around us, in ways that may not be concordant with fundamental EU values. The question of whether Europe is fit for a digital age is not just a question concerning Europe’s technological readiness level, but also her societal readiness level: are Europe’s economic, education, judicial, media, and political institutions prepared to lead this transformation in a manner that allows the clear benefits and sometimes obscure risks of digitalization to be distributed in a just and equitable manner?


About the online workshop


In this online workshop organised by the Brightlands Institute for Smart Society , we will dive into two topics of fundamental importance for Europe's digital age. In the morning session, we will discuss about democratising and governing an increasingly digital Europe that often moves at a much faster speed than its institutions.

The afternoon will be dedicated to the future of work - from what and where to how and how much - a topic that is gaining salience as we come out of the pandemic and return (or not) to our offices and routines.

This online workshop is organised in the framework of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet RELAY project coordinated by Campus Brussels. RELAY is a project that aims at discussing the European Commission’s political guidelines and work programme with a wide and diverse array of stakeholders. For more information, please visit the RELAY webpage​. 




Opening of virtual room


Welcome and introduction

Darian Meacham, BISS, Maastricht University


Session 1: Democratising and governing digital Europe

Keynote addresses:

  • Tamar Sharon, Radboud University Nijmegen, ERC Project Digital Good
  • Photini Vrikki, King's College London, Charlemagne Prize Fellow 2020-21
  • Martin Gak, Deutsche Welle, religion and ethics correspondent

Coffee break


Panel discussion and Q&A

Chair: Francesco Tava, UWE Bristol

The keynote speakers will be joined by Walid el Houri, openDemocracy, and by Juuso Järviniemi, Young European Federalists.


Lunch break


Session 2: The future of work

Keynote addresses:

  • Aída Ponce del Castillo, European Trade Union Institute
  • Mark Levels and Marie-Christine Fregin, Research Centre for Education and the Labor Market at Maastricht University, TECHNEQUALITY project
  • James Muldoon, Exeter University, Autonomy Digital

Coffee break


Panel discussion and Q&A

Chair: Darian Meacham, BISS, Maastricht University


Concluding remarks