Sunday 30 April 2017

The EU digital single market strategy

The future president Jean-Claude Juncker presented his political guidelines for the new Commission, before it took office on 1 November 2014. We find the ten priorities in the publication A New Start for Europe.

The second priority mentioned was a connected digital single market. The aims are worth repeating:

I believe that we must make much better use of the great opportunities offered by digital technologies, which know no borders. To do so, we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law.

If we do this, we can ensure that European citizens will soon be able to use their mobile phones across Europe without having to pay roaming charges. We can ensure that consumers can access services, music, movies and sports events on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe and regardless of borders. We can create a fair level playing field where all companies offering their goods or services in the European Union are subject to the same data protection and consumer rules, regardless of where their server is based. By creating a connected digital single market, we can generate up to € 250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, notably for younger job-seekers, and a vibrant knowledge-based society.

To achieve this, I intend to take, within the first six months of my mandate, ambitious legislative steps towards a connected digital single market, notably by swiftly concluding negotiations on common European data protection rules; by adding more ambition to the ongoing reform of our telecoms rules; by modernising copyright rules in the light of the digital revolution and changed consumer behaviour; and by modernising and simplifying consumer rules for online and digital purchases. This should go hand-in-hand with efforts to boost digital skills and learning across society and to facilitate the creation of innovative start-ups. Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services should become a horizontal policy, covering all sectors of the economy and of the public sector.

Commission Work Programme

Since the new European Commission started late in 2014, it had time for little more than planning for its first year of real activity, 2015. We turn to:
Commission Work Programme 2015 - A New Start; Strasbourg, 16.12.2014 COM(2014) 910 final  

The Commission Work Programme (CWP) presented the following aims towards a digital single market (DSM), in particular the promised strategy and some main ingredients (page 6):

2. A Connected Digital Single Market

The Digital Single Market holds one of the main keys to a new dynamic across the European economy as a whole, fostering jobs, growth, innovation and social progress. All areas of the economy and society are becoming digital. Europe needs to be at the forefront of this digital revolution for its citizens and its businesses. Barriers to digital are barriers to jobs, prosperity and progress.

The Commission is preparing a Strategy which will identify the major challenges to complete a secure, trustworthy and dynamic Digital Single Market. The Strategy will focus on six strands: building trust and confidence, removing restrictions, ensuring access and connectivity, building the Digital economy, promoting e-society and investing in world-class ICT research and innovation.

In 2015, as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission will aim to conclude ongoing inter-institutional negotiations on proposals such as the common European data protection reform and the Regulation on a Connected Continent. It will also propose new initiatives, legislative and non-legislative, to bring the Digital Single Market to the level of ambition needed to respond to the existing challenges. In this context, the Commission will notably complement the regulatory telecommunications environment, modernise EU legislation on copyright and on audiovisual media services, simplify the rules for consumers making online and digital purchases, facilitate e-commerce, enhance cyber-security and mainstream digitisation across policy areas.   
We find the DSM strategy in the annex with new initiatives COM(2014) 910 final ANNEX 1 (page 2):

A Connected Digital Single Market

Digital Single Market (DSM) Package

The aim is to ensure that consumers enjoy cross-border access to digital services, create a level-playing field for companies and create the conditions for a vibrant digital economy and society. The package will include, among other legislative proposals, the modernisation of copyright.

DSM strategy and evidence  

In May, the Commission duly produced two official documents, first of all the communication in the official EU languages:

A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe; Brussels, 6.5.2015 COM(2015) 192 final (20 pages)

The second document was the accompanying the more hefty staff working document (SWD), published in English only, but with evidence to underpin the proposed actions:
A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe - Analysis and Evidence; Brussels, 6.5.2015 SWD(2015) 100 final (109 pages)

The communication started by offering the quote from the political guidelines you already saw above.

Referring to the supporting staff working document, the communication (p. 3) from the Commission presented a new estimate of the potential gains in economic growth:

Europe has the capabilities to lead in the global digital economy but we are currently not making the most of them. Fragmentation and barriers that do not exist in the physical Single Market are holding the EU back. Bringing down these barriers within Europe could contribute an additional EUR 415 billion to European GDP.  

Breaking down all obstacles and unleashing the full digital potential of Europe fast enough would make a huge difference for the citizens of the union.


If you are interested, I compiled links to recent DSM articles in Finnish and Swedish in the blog entry Bloggartiklar kring strategin för en digital inre marknad.

Ralf Grahn

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