Digital law and environmental law: European cross cutting-challenges

The Marie S. Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (MSCA-PF) programme is a highly prestigious renowned EU-funded scheme. It offers talented scientists a unique chance to set up 2-year research and training projects with the support of a supervising team. Besides providing an attractive grant, it represents a major opportunity to boost the career of promising researchers.

The University of Rennes 1, and the Western Institute of Law and Europe (Institut de l’Ouest: Droit et Europe -IODE), is thus looking for excellent postdoctoral researchers with an international profile to write a persuasive proposal to apply for a Marie S. Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship grant in 2022 (deadline of the EU call set on 14 September 2022). The topic and research team presented below have been identified in this regard.


Green Deal , European Union Law, twin transitions Digital sobriety, responsible digital, environmental impact

Research project description

The European strategy today refers jointly to the digital and environmental transitions. This desire to bring them into line is based on two aspects: on the one hand, limiting the environmental footprint of digital technologies, but also, on the other hand, exploiting the potential of digital technologies to achieve the objectives of the Green Deal. This requires data governance to develop artificial intelligence applications capable of achieving the objectives of the Green Deal (climate neutrality by 2050, zero pollution, etc.).

The first issue is obviously the need for the new technologies sector to reduce its environmental and energy footprint. There are also circular economy issues (reuse of computer equipment). We must therefore think of digital technology in terms of sustainability and think of it in a global way (including digital uses to avoid the « rebound effects » generally observed (a progress leads to a new source of pollution). As part of the Green Deal and the digital strategy, the Commission wants to legislate on circular economy and energy efficiency issues. It also plans to take measures for energy performance of data centers and broadband networks.

The broader sustainability objective for manufactured products can also be achieved through digital tools: for example, the possibility of providing a digital passport to limit the obsolescence of objects. The second major issue is how digital can help achieve the Green Deal goals of sustainability and climate neutrality. Data is essential to develop artificial intelligence solutions, which seem to be an unsurpassable prospect for adjusting public policies on the environment. For digital technology to meet these objectives, there are several challenges: organizing data sharing and creating a value chain from this data to develop intelligent applications from this data.

The objective of the European institutions is to create a European data space and imagine a data governance to achieve the objectives of the European Green Pact. At the origin of the European strategy, there is the observation that the constitution of a data space can allow developers to think about all sorts of innovations that could be mobilized in a way that is favorable to the environment. To achieve this environmental objective, the use of artificial intelligence must be thought out in such a way as to be secure on the one hand (in terms of cybersecurity, protection of fundamental rights and personal data in particular) and to use the potentialities offered by access to and use of data of environmental interest on the other. The issue is storage, access to data and the possibilities of re-use of data.

In environmental matters, the data can be personal data, but it is mainly non-personal data that is relevant. The difficulty is that they sometimes belong to companies, sometimes to individuals, sometimes to associations, sometimes to the public sector and that the legal issues are therefore not the same. Sometimes it is industrial data, sometimes it is confidential and sensitive data. This obviously raises a whole series of legal issues: property rights of the companies to which the data belong, possible protection of business secrecy, cyber security, protection of personal data, etc. There is sometimes talk of the possibility of qualifying this environmentally important data as « general interest » data in an open data perspective.

The legal issue is that this data is often held by private individuals or companies, but access to it should be open in the name of the general interest potential that it represents. This is for example the case for energy consumption, climate data, data related to biodiversity, or related to the collection or treatment of waste. The objective is to give not only other companies but also citizens, environmental associations and non-governmental organizations the means to take advantage of this data, for example to enable them to create platforms for sharing this data.

The fellow will work on the study of environmental data governance, at the European, national and local levels. These questions are essential to identify the issues at stake in the creation of a European health space. There is resistance to the opening of this data, as the repercussions on spatial planning issues are so important. The fellow will be involved in publications and the organization of scientific events on these issues. The work will also be done in connection with the local economic and institutional ecosystem.

Link to the Euraxess individual ad:

Link to Nature Careers group announcement:

Link to the 2PE website:

Candidates wishing to apply for the call for expression of interest are invited to apply via the EU Survey form that the 2PE team has set up, which allows to quickly identify eligible candidates for a Marie Curie PF project (qualifications, research experience, mobility rules):

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