DSM = Digital Single Market… but what is this market and what does it mean for the future of Europe?
Will the Digital Single Market be able to
“tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to a single one”?
On May 6, 2015 the European Commission finally adopted the Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy: a document of capital importance for the digital developments of the markets and firms of the EU Members States. According to the EU Commission’s press release,
“The Internet and digital technologies are transforming our world – in every walk of life and in every line of business. Europe must embrace the digital revolution and open up digital opportunities for people and businesses. How? By using the power of the EU’s Single Market… At present, barriers online mean citizens miss out on goods and services: only 15% shop online from another EU country; Internet companies and start-ups cannot take full advantage of growth opportunities online: only 7% of SMEs sell cross-border… Finally, businesses and governments are not fully benefitting from digital tools. The aim of the Digital Single Market is to tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to a single one. A fully functional Digital Single Market could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.”
The DSM strategy of the European Commission aims at creating a single digital market in the EU without internal frontiers and segmentations. It is a strategic document where priorities are indicated by the Commission and will have to be be followed by the competent commissioners for specific actions.
It sets out 16 key actions under 3 pillars which the Commission will deliver by the end of 2016.
The 3 pillars and the related 16 actions are the following:
Pillar I: Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe:
- Rules to make cross-border e-commerce easier and that will aim at boosting confidence to shop and sell across borders, through harmonised EU rules on contracts and consumer protection;
- To enforce consumer rules more rapidly and consistently, by reviewing the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation;
- More efficient and affordable parcel delivery, since delivery costs are high and, therefore, represent a barrier;
- To end unjustified geo-blocking – a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons, when online sellers either deny consumers access to a website based on their location, or re-route them to a local store with different prices;
- To identify potential competition concerns affecting European e-commerce markets. To this aim, on the 6th May the Commission launched an antitrust competition inquiry into the e-commerce sector in the European Union;
- A more modern and European copyright law: the objective is to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works across the EU, including through further harmonisation measures;
- A review of the Satellite and Cable Directive;
- To simplify the administrative burden coming from different VAT regimes.
Pillar II: Creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish
- Present an ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules. This will include: a more effective spectrum coordination, common EU-wide criteria for spectrum assignment at national level; incentives for investment in high-speed broadband; ensuring a level playing field for all market player (both traditional and new); and creating an effective institutional framework;
- Review the audiovisual media framework to make it fit for the 21st century, focusing on the roles of the different market players in the promotion of European works (TV broadcasters, on-demand audiovisual service providers, etc.);
- Comprehensively analyse the role of online platforms (search engines, social media, app stores, etc.) in the market. This will cover issues such as the non-transparency of search results and of pricing policies, how they use the information they acquire, relationships between platforms and suppliers and the promotion of their own services to the disadvantage of competitors, as well as how to best tackle illegal content on the Internet.
- Reinforce trust and security in digital services, notably concerning the handling of personal data. This will entail the creation of new EU data protection rules, due to be adopted by the end of 2015 as well as a review of the e-Privacy Directive by the Commission;
- Propose a partnership with the industry on cybersecurity in the area of technologies and solutions for online network security.
Pillar III: Maximising the growth potential of the digital economy
The Commission will:
- Propose a ‘European free flow of data initiative’ to promote the free movement of data in the European Union. Sometimes new services are hampered by restrictions on where data is located or on data access – restrictions which often do not have anything to do with protecting personal data. This new initiative will tackle those restrictions and so encourage innovation. The Commission will also launch a European Cloud initiative covering certification of cloud services, the switching of cloud service providers and a “research cloud”;
- Define priorities for standards and interoperability in areas such as e-health, transport planning or energy (smart metering);
- Support an inclusive digital society where citizens have the right skills to seize the opportunities of the Internet and boost their chances of getting a job.
The Digital Single Market is tightly connected with the pending Single Telecom Market proposal since two of its areas, i.e. roaming and net neutrality, are key for the establishment of a Single Digital Market. The proposal launched by Commissioner Kroes last September 2013 is now been dealt by the Council and the Parliament and it should be approved at the end of this year.
The Digital Single Market will be on the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 June.
Read more… Digital single Market