Europe’s 16-point digital master plan revealed

6 May 2015

The European Commission has revealed its 16-point plan ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’, which it hopes will enable European online businesses to compete locally and globally.

It is envisaged that the plan will add €415bn to European GDP and create 3.8m new jobs.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that Europe must make better use of the opportunities offered by digital technologies that know no borders.

The current borders are stifling digital trade and the EU is becoming locked in anti-trust battles with US technology giants, the most recent of which is Google. The powers-that-be in Europe want to make it every bit as successful as Silicon Valley.

“We can create a fair level playing field where all companies offering their goods or services in the European Union are subject to the same data protection and consumer rules, regardless of where their server is based,” Juncker said.

“By creating a connected digital single market, we can generate up to €250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, notably for younger job-seekers, and a vibrant knowledge-based society.”

Juncker said that not only do we need to enable people to use their mobile phones across Europe without having to pay roaming charges, Europe needs to modernise copyright rules, reform telecoms rules and simplify consumer rules for online and digital purchases.

“This should go hand-in-hand with efforts to boost digital skills and learning across society and to facilitate the creation of innovative start-ups. Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services should become a horizontal policy, covering all sectors of the economy and of the public sector,” Juncker said.

The European Commission said that breaking down the barriers to trade within Europe and creating a Digital Single Market could contribute €415bn to European GDP, create opportunities for new start-ups and profit from the scale of a market of more than 500m people.

Currently EU citizens could save €11.7bn each year if they choose EU goods and services online, the Commission pointed out.

The EU also warned that demand for digitally-skilled employees is growing by around 4pc a year. Shortages of ICT professionals in the EU could reach 825,000 unfilled vacancies by 2020 if no decisive action is taken.

The EU’s 16-point digital plan and its target dates

Under three broad headings of: better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish, and maximising the growth potential of the digital economy, the European Commission’s action plan includes:

  1. Legislative proposals for simple and effective cross-border contract rules for
  2. Consumers and businesses (2015)
  3. Review the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation (2016)
  4. Measures in the area of parcel delivery (2016)
  5. A wide-ranging review to prepare legislative proposals to tackle unjustified geo-blocking (2015)
  6. Competition sector inquiry into e-commerce, relating to the online trade of goods and the online provision of services (2015)
  7. Legislative proposals for a reform of the copyright regime (2015)
  8. Review of the Satellite and Cable Directive (2015/2016)
  9. Legislative proposals to reduce the administrative burden on businesses arising from different VAT regimes (2016)
  10. Legislative proposals to reform the current telecoms rules (2016)
  11. Review the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2016)
  12. Comprehensive analysis of the role of platforms in the market, including illegal content on the internet (2015)
  13. Review the e-Privacy Directive (2016)
  14. Initiatives on data ownership, free flow of data (e.g. between cloud providers) and on a European Cloud (2016)
  15. Adoption of a Priority ICT Standards Plan and extending the European Interoperability Framework for public services (2015)
  16. 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)

Digital Europe image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years