Martina Ferracane, EUI

CIVICA Research team delivering on Digital Trade Integration


The 'Digital Trade Integration' research project draws on the expertise and experience of academics and practitioners from the CIVICA alliance and beyond. They are now on their way towards delivering a dataset covering digital trade regulations in 94 countries.

The ambitious research project ‘Digital Trade Integration - Dataset & Index’, led at the EUI by Dr Martina Ferracane and Professor Bernard Hoekman, draws on the expertise and experience of dozens of academics and practitioners from the CIVICA alliance and beyond. After one year of work, they are on their way towards delivering a dataset covering digital trade regulations in 94 countries.

After just one year, the Digital Trade Integration Project (DTI), supported by CIVICA Research, is poised to meet a major research objective: the launch of an online, open access dataset on digital trade regulations in 94 countries.

The dataset is the product of a global research team coordinated by Dr Martina Ferracane and Professor Bernard Hoekman, Director of Global Economics at the Global Governance Programme of the EUI's Robert Schuman Centre. The project launched in summer 2021 with 20 professors and researchers from CIVICA partners EUI, Bocconi University, Hertie School and LSE.

One year on, DTI involves over 60 academics and practitioners from around the world thanks to six additional partner institutions: the European Centre for International Political Economy, the Digital Cooperation Organization, the Jean Monnet Network Trade & Investment in Services Associates, and the UN Economic Commissions for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP); for Africa (UN-ECA); and for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC).

Mapping digital trade

Digital trade is a vast area, and, as Martina explains, there is no single agreed-upon definition. For the dataset on digital trade regulation, the project considers trade in ICT and ICT-related goods; the enormous category of digital services, which ranges from products such as entertainment to e-tailing to cloud computing; investment in the digital economy, such as telecommunications and computer services; and the regulation of personal and non-personal data.

After collecting the data on regulation and policy relevant for digital trade integration in 94 countries, team members mapped the information, identifying areas of collaboration and coordination. The dataset and subsequent index will allow for empirical analysis of digital regulation, helping practitioners, companies and governments identify policies which help or hamper the expansion of digital trade.

Coordinating data, coordinating people

For Martina, the experience of coordinating such a massive research project has been a learning experience for her and all members of the team. CIVICA support allowed her to put together a diverse, multi-disciplinary global network, with participants at every level of academia and practice.

To insure harmonised data collection and coding, DTI had to count on its members to share their expertise on the many different aspects of digital trade policy and regulation. To those ends, CIVICA support was again fundamental, permitting Martina to organise six webinars on digital trade policy and regulation. “It was truly a group project,” she explains. “We had the time to connect and learn from the different specialisations, at various levels.”

Next steps 

With the release of the dataset planned for September, DTI will turn its attention to finalising its second major research output: the index on digital trade integration. The index, based on the dataset, will facilitate analysis and allow for international comparisons of digital trade regulation.


Digital Trade Integration - Dataset & Index is one of the first projects selected under CIVICA's first call for collaborative research winning projects, which marked the launch of CIVICA Research – the alliance's long-term research and innovation agenda.

CIVICA Research brings together researchers from eight leading European universities in the social sciences to contribute knowledge and solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. The project aims to strengthen the research & innovation pillar of the European University alliance CIVICA. CIVICA Research is co-funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Subscribe to the newsletter to stay updated with CIVICA Research developments and opportunities.

Written by EUI's editorial team