Photo courtesy of Sebastian Bertrand via Flickr.
The European Commission, concerned with a patchwork of regulations, seeks to harmonize digital rules across the euro zone and boost the EU’s tech economy.
How? By establishing a Digital Single Market for a more cohesive, borderless digital business landscape.
The European Commission recently outlined its Digital Single Market strategy, which is meant to create opportunity and fair competition in the EU tech world. It includes 16 initiatives, which will be delivered by the end of 2016.
The strategy is meant to embrace and facilitate the digital revolution, and even create more competition with Silicon Valley. But some aren’t so sure it’s specific enough to succeed. Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Digital Single Market (DSM) would breakdown national silos, and allow borderless access, protection, and rules across Europe.
According to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, the DSM would enable everyday EU consumers to use their phones across Europe without roaming charges, access services and media wherever they are, while being protected by unified EU data privacy rules.
This would help consumers and businesses alike. The three pillars are as follows:
- Access: providing better access to digital goods and services for citizens and businesses alike across the EU, breaking down barriers between member states
- Environment: creating the right conditions (via high speed, trustworthy infrastructure) for digital networks, startups, and other technology innovations to compete and grow on a level playing field
- Economy & Society: maximizing the potential for economic and societal growth in the digital economy by fostering investment in Big Data, cloud computing, and prioritizing research and innovation
2. The Digital Single Market could grow the EU’s economy and create hundreds and thousands of jobs.[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”Ct9dqPGKgBUg4DyimKzSZCZoki6Agz2M”]Juncker says that the DSM could generate up to EUR 250 billion additional growth in Europe, as well as add many jobs, especially for younger job-seekers.
With demand for digitally skilled employees growing at about 4 percent a year, along with the DSM and its EU-level job and education initiatives, Juncker estimates job creation in the hundreds of thousands.
3. The Digital Single Market hopes to modernize e-commerce and copyright law.
Currently, only 15 percent of consumers buy from EU countries other than their own. That’s because parcel delivery can be expensive across borders, not to mention the additional hurdle of geo-blocking, which limits Internet access based on server location.
The DSM would work to prevent geo-blocking and create more affordable, high-quality cross-border delivery services, which could save consumers €11.7 billion per year.
As for copyright law, the DSM hopes to modernize it by allowing people to watch or listen to content from other EU countries, or from their own when abroad.
Telecoms are another story: though the DSM does seek to roll out fast broadband for all, there are no explicit plans for a Telecoms Single Market, which some say is vital to the Digital Single Market’s success.
4. Some have critiqued the Digital Single Market plan for various reasons.
The Digital Single Market proposal is ambitious, but flawed according to critics. Some European industry experts in particular have expressed worry, calling the proposal vague and potentially counter-productive.
Specifically, platform-regulating agendas and proposed roles for intermediaries to monitor, judge, and remove unlawful third party content has some concerned about a clash between freedom of speech and law enforcement efforts.
In addition, an analysis at Politico notes that though aspects like affordability, user-friendliness, and technological plausibility are good, the proposal is less politically plausible. It could also take three years to be agreed upon, and another two to be transposed into law.