Digital and Intelligent Europe: EU Citizens, Justice and the Challenges of New Technologies

  • Themeli, Erlis (Recipient), van Gelder, Emma (Recipient) & van Duin, J.M.L. (Recipient)



The theme of this Conference fits within the ACES Research Theme ‘Politics and Publics’, with a focus on the question if and how digital and intelligent technologies can contribute to enhancing access to justice for EU citizens and consumers. It aims at bringing together legal scholars and social scientists with an interest in (automated) decision-making processes and dispute resolution mechanisms in contemporary Europe. As such, it aims to spark an interdisciplinary debate within the research community at UvA and beyond on how technological developments can facilitate access to justice, a cornerstone of the rule of law. This is a topic of considerable importance for both the European Commission and the Council of Europe. In addition, the Conference aims at increasing the visibility and the impact of European studies at the UvA in the field of digitization, one of the main challenges for the 21st century. Digital and intelligent technologies tremendously affect the lives of EU citizens. Every day, they find themselves interacting with such technologies; they shop online, use online banking and services, and at the same time face an increasingly automated government. This Conference revolves around EU citizens in three different capacities: as consumers, as citizens interacting with government institutions, and as citizens in search of justice. Digital and intelligent technologies can reduce barriers to access to justice, to courts, and to government services by offering cheaper, faster and simpler proceedings. At the same time, such technologies may pose challenges to democracy and the ‘rule of law’. They may radically shape societal structures and the justice system; the 2020s are expected to be “the decade of legal change” (Susskind). Digital and intelligent technologies become more and more prominent in European societies, forcing us to rethink the traditional public services and in particular the way we deliver justice. An urgent and important question is therefore how we can design new technologies in a responsible manner, in order to build an intelligent sustainable future that ensures protection of citizen and consumer rights and better access to justice. This one-day Conference discusses these directions in four panels. Panel I explores different aspects of access to justice in the context of technological developments and is dedicated to junior academics. Panel II takes the perspective of consumers and focuses on online dispute resolution (ODR). Panel III considers the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems in judicial proceedings. Panel IV reflects on the role of automated decision-making (ADM) processes within the public administration and, in particular, the importance of transparency and inclusivity. Notions and perceptions of justice and fairness play a key role in all four panels.