Europe 'must create single digital market to make EU competitive'

Patchwork of laws between states holding back business, warns commissioner

More must be done to create a single digital market for Europe to remain competitive in the global economy, the EU's digital commissioner has warned.

Gnther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society said that companies operating in the EU are subject to a patchwork of rules and laws across EU member states, and claimed this is holding back business.

"Europe cannot be at the forefront of the digital revolution with a patchwork of 28 different rules for telecoms services, copyright, IT security and data protection," he said.

"We need a European market which allows new business models to flourish, start-ups to grow and the industry to take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT). And people have to invest too - in their IT skills, be it in their job or their leisure time."

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Among the main areas the European Commission (EC) wants to tackle is geo-blocking, where Europeans in one country cannot access services in another EU state, or are rerouted to a local store with a different set of prices.

The EC also wants to bolster cross-border e-commerce, with a focus on SMBs, by taking measures such as harmonising consumer and contract rules across member states, as well as introducing more efficient and affordable parcel delivery.

Today only 15 per cent of consumers shop online from another EU country which is not surprising, said the EC, if the delivery charge ends up higher than the actual price of the product.

It also wants to simplify VAT arrangements. The Commission said it was important to boost the cross-border activities of businesses, especially SMBs.

"The cost and complexity of having to deal with foreign tax rules are a major problem for SMEs. The VAT-related costs due to different requirements are estimated at 80 billion," it said.

Also on the single digital market agenda is the modernisation of copyright law "to ensure the right balance between the interests of creators and those of users or consumers".

Advertisement - Article continues below

Andrus Ansip, EC's vice-president for the digital single market, said that it was time to "do away with all those fences and walls that block us online".

"People must be able to freely go across borders online just as they do offline. Innovative businesses must be helped to grow across the EU, not remain locked into their home market," added Ansip.

"This will be an uphill struggle all the way, but we need an ambitious start. Europe should benefit fully from the digital age: better services, more participation and new jobs."

The EC are due to submit proposals on its digital single market strategy to the European Council in May.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now


Policy & legislation

Breaking up big tech 'will cause more problems', says EU

8 Nov 2019
Policy & legislation

EU shelves plans to impose digital tax

13 Mar 2019

Most Popular

data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
cyber security

If not passwords then what?

8 Jan 2020
Policy & legislation

GDPR and Brexit: How will one affect the other?

9 Jan 2020
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020