On 6 May 2015 the European Commission published its “Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe“. The Commission’s proposals are aimed at producing a true digital single market, one with – in President Juncker’s optimistic words – “pan-continental telecoms networks, digital services that cross borders and a wave of innovative European start-ups“.
The Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy paper is the start of what will be a long road for the Commission, for European legislative bodies, for national governments, for industry groups and for businesses of all types and all sizes. It contains many inter-related initiatives and proposals that will play out across 2015, 2016 and beyond.
The Commission’s DSM Strategy is built around three “pillars”:
- Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe
- Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish
- Maximising the growth potential of the European Digital Economy
The Strategy paper says that the Commission’s DSM project team “will deliver on these different actions by the end of 2016“. Attention will now focus on the reactions of the European Parliament and the European Council, of national governments – as many of these measures will be sensitive at Member State level – and of business and other interested parties.
Osborne Clarke’s experts across Europe have wide experience of how the Commission will approach the many aspects of its DSM initiative, including:
- Breaking down borders to cross-border commerce: The Commission is determined to break down a number of obstacles it perceives to be preventing cross-border e-commerce, looking in particular at establishing a common set of rules for digital purchases across Europe, at consumer protection and at increasing the availability of affordable cross-border parcel delivery.
- Geo-blocking, copyright and a media framework for the 21st century: Preventing “unjustified” geo-blocking is a Commission priority, as is “modernising” European copyright laws and creating a new media framework to recognise that consumers increasingly access content via the internet and mobile devices.
- Telecoms and online platforms: The Commission is proposing an ambitious overhaul of the current telecoms regulatory framework. It is also going to scrutinise the role of online platforms and what it sees as those platforms’ ability to dominate multiple sectors.
- Data protection and privacy: From the proposed Network and Information Security Directive to the draft European General Data Protection Regulation and a review of the e-Privacy Directive, the Commission is clearly indicating that laws on data protection, including marketing and security, are going to be significantly changing in the future.
- Data and its uses: The Commission identifies a need for action in “ownership and access to data, in big data and analytics, in cloud services and science” and to ensure common standards to allow the seamless flow of data, whether in transport, healthcare, mobile payments or the Internet of Things.
- Competition matters: Competition law is at the heart of many aspects of the DSM Strategy. In particular, the Commission is using its competition powers to tackle geo-blocking, while the e-commerce market investigation will enable it to examine all commercial restrictions to genuine cross-border trade.
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