Sunday 10 July 2011

EU Digital Single Market in Europe 2020 strategy

Ensuring the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is an ongoing work in Europe, since the launch of the common market by the 1957 EEC Treaty. Professor Mario Monti assessed the need for progress in his report to Commission president José Manuel Barroso:

Mario Monti: A new strategy for the single market – at the service of Europe's economy and society (9 May 2010)

Telecommunications and digital services have become essential drivers of economic growth. We looked at Monti's proposals in the blog post yesterday: Mario Monti on EU Digital Single Market.

Monti recommendations

Monti saw the need for an integrated European-wide market for electronic communications, a pan-European online retail market and a single market for online digital content.

Monti's key recommendations were (page 46):

Telecommunications services and infrastructures

⇒ Review of the sector to prepare proposals for creating a seamless regulatory space for electronic communications, including proposals to reinforce EU level regulatory oversight, to introduce pan-European licensing and EU level frequency allocation and administration.


⇒ Present proposals to end the fragmentation of EU consumer legislation and introduce in particular harmonised rules for delivery, warranty and dispute resolution.

⇒ Present proposals to simplify the business environment for cross-border retail transactions, including VAT rules, the cross border management of recycling rules and of copyright levies on blank media and equipment.

Online digital Content

⇒ proposals for an EU copyright law, including an EU framework for copyright clearance and management

⇒ proposals for a legal framework for EU-wide online broadcasting.
During his work, Monti consulted widely with EU institutions and member states. Mutually supportive actions do not come as a surprise.

Europe 2020 strategy

In March 2010 the European Commission had presented the Europe 2020 growth strategy in a communication:

EUROPE 2020 A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; Brussels, 3.3.2010 COM(2010) 2020 final

In accordance with the three priorities – smart, sustainable and inclusive growth – and the five EU headline targets, the Commission promised seven flagship initiatives to promote progress. Among these we find (on page 6):

"A digital agenda for Europe" to speed up the roll-out of high-speed internet and reap the benefits of a digital single market for households and firms.

According to the Commission, smart growth means strengthening knowledge and innovation as drivers of our future growth. Among other things, the Commission saw the need for European action with regard to the digital society (page 11-12):

Digital society: The global demand for information and communication technologies is a market worth € 2 000 billion, but only one quarter of this comes from European firms. Europe is also falling behind on high-speed internet, which affects its ability to innovate, including in rural areas, as well as on the on-line dissemination of knowledge and on-line distribution of goods and services.

Digital Agenda for Europe

The EU2020 communication went on to present the essentials of the coming flagship initiative A Digital Agenda for Europe (page 14):

Flagship Initiative: "A Digital Agenda for Europe"

The aim is to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits from a Digital Single Market based on fast and ultra fast internet and interoperable applications, with broadband access for all by 2013, access for all to much higher internet speeds (30 Mbps or above) by 2020, and 50% or more of European households subscribing to internet connections above 100 Mbp

At EU level, the Commission will work:

– To provide a stable legal framework that stimulate[s] investments in an open and competitive high speed internet infrastructure and in related services;

– To develop an efficient spectrum policy;

– To facilitate the use of the EU's structural funds in pursuit of this agenda;

– To create a true single market for online content and services (i.e. borderless and safe EU web services and digital content markets, with high levels of trust and confidence, a balanced regulatory framework with clear rights regimes, the fostering of multi-territorial licences, adequate protection and remuneration for rights holders and active support for the digitisation of Europe's rich cultural heritage, and to shape the global governance of the internet;

– To reform the research and innovation funds and increase support in the field of ICTs so as to reinforce Europe's technology strength in key strategic fields and create the conditions for high growth SMEs to lead emerging markets and to stimulate ICT innovation across all business sectors;

– To promote internet access and take-up by all European citizens, especially through actions in support of digital literacy and accessibility

At national level, Member States will need:

– To draw up operational high speed internet strategies, and target public funding, including structural funds, on areas not fully served by private investments;

– To establish a legal framework for co-ordinating public works to reduce costs of network rollout;

– To promote deployment and usage of modern accessible online services (e.g. e-government, online health, smart home, digital skills, security).

Having scanned the Digital Agenda for Europe in embryonic form, we continue towards the birth of the Agenda and the early life of the digital single market.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. In the footsteps of Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, the Letters from Europe blog asks if Europe is the best place on Earth to be born. How do you comment on the conclusions and the reasons offered?

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