Different rules and regulations across the EU’s 28 member states are thwarting growth of the region’s digital economy – which the EC’s College of Commissioners highlighted today in its first discussion on the ‘digital single market strategy’ – yet Andrus Ansip, EC’s vice-president for the digital single market, said he was “under no illusions” as to how hard it would be to come up with proposals that could be widely agreed upon. “It will be an uphill struggle,” he warned today.
One area the commission is tackling is so-called geo-blocking, when Europeans cannot use online services that are available in other EU countries, or they are re-routed to a local store with different prices. Such discrimination cannot exist in a single market, said the EC.
The EC also wants to facilitate cross-border e-commerce, especially for SMEs, with harmonised consumer and contract rules and with more efficient and affordable parcel delivery. Today only 15 per cent of consumers shop online from another EU country – which is not surprising, said the EC, if the delivery charge ends up higher than the actual price of the product.
Another area is modernising copyright law “to ensure the right balance between the interests of creators and those of users or consumers”.
“Europe cannot be at the forefront of the digital revolution with a patchwork of 28 different rules for telecommunications services, copyright, IT security and data protection,” said Gunther Oettinger, EC commissioner for the digital economy and society.
“We need a European market which allows new business models to flourish, start-ups to grow and the industry to take advantage of the internet of things. And people have to invest too – in their IT-skills, be it in their job or their leisure time”.
The College of Commissioners is due to submit proposals on its digital single market strategy in May.
Afke Schaart, VP of Europe, GSMA, welcomed Ansip’s confirmation today that the European Commission is to press ahead with its ambitious digital single market strategy:
“Creating such an environment will unlock significant economic growth and help restore Europe’s digital leadership,” said Schaart. “GSMA Intelligence predicts that by 2020, the mobile ecosystem will contribute approximately €500 billion to the region’s GDP. The mobile industry currently supports 2.5 million jobs directly and indirectly, many of which are highly skilled. The GSMA and its members are committed to working with policy makers to invest in Europe’s digital infrastructure and drive the region’s economic recovery.”
The EC’s push on the digital single market strategy follow’s Ansip’s comments yesterday that the compromise roaming solution proposed by the EU’s council of ministers, which represents national governments, was “a joke”.