DILLAN contributes to a research-informed re-design of some key elements of the EU’s multi-level legal system in the context of the ongoing digitalization of decision-making structures and the automation of processes. The research projects conducted as part of DILLAN search for ways to optimize effective decision making whilst at the same time enhancing the rule of law, democracy, transparency and the protection of fundamental rights within the various legal fields, which are subject to the studies within this DTU. Within DILLAN, researchers from various fields of law will cooperate with AI experts and computer scientists specialised in legal informatics to study possibilities and regulatory needs for adapting our European multi-level legal system to the opportunities and threats of the ongoing digital revolution. In doing so, it aims to provide answers on how societies can efficiently respond to challenges of digitalization.

Research conducted in the context of DILLAN is based on the understanding that information technologies in modern legal applications are currently transforming many aspects of modern societies – from the conditions of creating wealth to the relations between individuals and the conditions of the exercise of governmental functions. The technical possibilities of the current phase of digitalization – marked by the spread of automated decision-making systems based on advanced algorithms, machine learning, AI and supported inter alia by distributed ledger (blockchain) technology – entail great potential for creating new applications and higher efficiency in interactions. However, they pose some essential regulatory challenges to the fabric of the legal system, whether looking at public decision-making procedures or private action. These challenges are interrelated. In the public sphere, the focus of the research programme will concern the conditions of the rule of law, the steering of reality by democratic legislation, and democratic oversight and accountability of the interconnected executive branch of powers in Europe. Equally, for private applications, questions of agency, accountability and liability are among the main issues examine in the DTU.

The digital revolution itself is based on the availability of large-scale public and private data collections and novel possibilities of sharing and processing of such information. The latter has been made possible by the catalytic effect that the steady progress in the field of computing capacity and its widespread accessibility has exercised. The combination of these two factors has given rise to new enabling technologies and methods such as machine learning and AI as well as distributed ledger solutions (blockchain). These IT based innovations are also bound to revolutionise the legal discipline as a whole.

Having specific regard to the legal analysis of digitalization, one common denominator – and the findings of DILLAN’s research programme will flesh this out clearly – is its impact on decision-making procedures. From a legal perspective, digitalization displays a two-pronged functionality. On the one hand, digitalization and its applications are being used in the exercise of public power and the decision-making procedures that implement such exercises. On the other hand, the use of digitalization and its enabling technologies, by a variety of actors outside the public realm, also call for an adapted regulatory framework. These two aspects of the phenomenon of increased digitalization might lead to more purely human-cantered decision-making being replaced by automated processes, which were not conceivable when legal norms for specific areas were created in the past.