Monday 1 May 2017

Main points of EU digital single market strategy

The Grahnblawg entry Bloggartiklar kring strategin för en digital inre marknad is a compilation of posts in Finnish and Swedish about the digital single market (DSM). The Grahnlaw article The EU digital single market strategy took us from the political guidelines to the communication and the supporting evidence from the European Commission:
A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe; Brussels, 6.5.2015 COM(2015) 192 final (20 pages)  
A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe - Analysis and Evidence; Brussels, 6.5.2015 SWD(2015) 100 final (109 pages)

Potential gains

I want to repeat the new estimate of potential gains for growth and jobs, according to the digital single market (DSM) communication (p. 3), referring to the commission staff working document (SWD). 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:

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.  

Three pillars

The DSM communication is structured into three pillars (p. 3-4):

  • Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe – this requires the rapid removal of key differences between the online and offline worlds to break down barriers to cross-border online activity.

  • Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish – this requires high-speed, secure and trustworthy infrastructures and content services, supported by the right regulatory conditions for innovation, investment, fair competition and a level playing field.

  • Maximising the growth potential of our European Digital Economy – this requires investment in ICT infrastructures and technologies such as Cloud computing and Big Data, and research and innovation to boost industrial competiveness as well as better public services, inclusiveness and skills.

DSM actions

The pillars and planned actions are first discussed, then boiled down to a roadmap consisting of sixteen future legislative or non-legislative proposals (p. 20):

Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe

Legislative proposals for simple and effective cross-border contract rules for consumers and businesses (2015)

Review the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation (2016)

Measures in the area of parcel delivery (2016)

A wide ranging review to prepare legislative proposals to tackle unjustified Geo-blocking (2015)

Competition sector inquiry into e-commerce, relating to the online trade of goods and the online provision of services (2015)

Legislative proposals for a reform of the copyright regime (2015)

Review of the Satellite and Cable Directive (2015/2016)

Legislative proposals to reduce the administrative burden on businesses arising from different VAT regimes (2016)

Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish

Legislative proposals to reform the current telecoms rules (2016)

Review the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2016)

Comprehensive analysis of the role of platforms in the market including illegal content on the Internet (2015)

Review the e-Privacy Directive (2016)

Establishment of a Cybersecurity contractual Public-Private Partnership (2016)

Maximising the growth potential of the Digital Economy

Initiatives on data ownership, free flow of data (e.g. between cloud providers) and on a European Cloud (2016)

Adoption of a Priority ICT Standards Plan and extending the European Interoperability Framework for public services (2015)

New e-Government Action Plan including an initiative on the 'Once-Only' principle and an initiative on building up the interconnection of business registers (2016)


Sixteen proposals may look like a great number, but my impression is that the Juncker Commission follows a clear strategic vision, based on the political guidelines. The total number of new legislative proposals is fairly low, and they are subjected to impact assessments, consultation etc.

The Commission submits existing EU law to Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) checks, according to its Better regulation agenda.

Ralf Grahn

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