Europe's Political Economy
Creating a Digital Single Market - from vision to action16 July 2010
Mario Monti, former European Commissioner for the Internal Market and for Competition, said his report concludes that if the Single Market is to survive it must be strengthened and properly implemented, with the Digital Single Market (DSM) at its core.
The following implement steps are needed:
- create a seamless regulatory space;
- review EU licensing agreements;
- end the fragmentation of EU consumer legislation; introduce harmonised rules of delivery and simplify the business environment, e.g. on VAT;
- strengthen EU copyright law for online digital content, with a framework for EU online broadcasting;
- prioritise addressing copyright levies.
Mr Monti and hoped the Commission College would agree on the importance of the Single Digital Agenda for Europe.
Fabian Zuleeg, EPC Chief Economist said Europe needs to boost its knowledge economy to compete with the US, China or India.
Developing the DSM boosts companies, benefits the consumer, makes public services more efficient, helps the EU move to a green economy, and encourages the integration of Europe’s labour markets, helping to drive ‘smart’, green growth.
He outlined the steps that need to be taken: the Barroso II Commission needs to mainstream the digital agenda across departments; create an online market place and protect consumer rights; design a business environment, with digital tools, such as electronic signatures; set up a consistent harmonised framework for knowledge across the EU, including intellectual property rights; create the digital infrastructure to foster investment, and put more emphasis on education and teaching ICT skills.
Maglena Kuneva, former Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, said we need to ensure the DSM is properly regulated so consumers can trust in doing business over the Internet, and ensure they are not the victim of unfair practices or of consumer profiling.
Consumers too often find that national regulations, such as VAT, prevent them buying goods outside their own countries via the Internet.
Ms Kuneva believed the DSM was “on the way” in Europe so the EU has to be faster, and more ambitious about welcoming it, than it had been towards the Single Market.
Lorena Boix Alonso, Deputy Head of Neelie Kroes’ Cabinet for the Digital Agenda, European Commission, said Europe was finally waking up to the importance of the Digital Single Market, and Commission President Barros has made it a ‘flagship project’. Sadly the public, and even those working in the Internet Sector still lack confidence in it.
The Commission’s Communication recommends opening up EU Member-state access to the digital agenda; ensuring the DSM is governed by legal regulations, building consumer confidence; setting a date for a Single Market for online market transactions; and reinforcing the DSM for communications services; and working for greater convergence on business issues.
The Commission believes the DSM can boost SMEs, and Commissioner Kroes described the Internet as “the best news for SMEs since the beginning of capitalism”.