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EU Digital Single Market Aspects

Vision for the EU Digital Single Market

The EU vision for the Digital Single Market (DSM) as set out in the DSM Strategy is to ensure the free movement of persons, services and capital and that individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence.

EU Digital Single Market Strategy

The goals of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy are to ensure that Europe maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy and to help European companies to grow globally. Following the mid-term review and evolution of the strategy over 30 Digital Single Market initiatives are contained in the Strategy under three pillars. These are: 

The European Commission points out that only 15% of citizens shop online from another EU country and 7% of SMEs sell cross-border. The aim of the Digital Single Market is to tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to one. The Commission considers that the DSM can create opportunities for new startups and existing companies in a market of over 500m people, potentially contributing €415 billion per year to Europe's economy, creating jobs and transforming our public services. 

The Commission also believes that an inclusive DSM offers opportunities for citizens, provided they are equipped with the right digital skills. Enhanced use of digital technologies can improve citizens' access to information and culture, improve their job opportunities and promote modern open government. 

Mid-Term Review of the EU Digital Single Market Strategy

A Mid-Term Review of the DSM Strategy was published in May 2017 and outlined three main areas where the EU needs to act further to ensure a fair, open and secure digital environment: 

  1. Initiatives to spur the European data economy by clarifying rules on the cross-border flow of non-personal data and prepare an initiative to improve access and reuse of publicly-funded data;
  2. Tackle growing cybersecurity challenges by reviewing the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and the mandate of European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), to align it to the new EU-wide framework on cybersecurity; and
  3. promote fairness and responsibility of online platforms in two areas:
    • review platform to business (P2B) trading practices to ensure a fair and innovation-friendly business  environment; and
    • ensure that illegal content online can be easily reported and removed effectively.

Finally, the Review has also shown that substantial additional investment in digital skills and infrastructure and technologies will be needed. The Commission is therefore working with member states on these issues as well as high performance computing, e-health and connected cars. It will also look at digitisation in the global context and closer to home, in our working lives.

Key EU Digital Single Market Achievements to June 2018

Since the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy was launched in May 2015, among the key achievements that have been delivered, which will benefit businesses and consumers throughout the EU, are:

  • As a result of agreement on Roaming Regulations anyone travelling in the EU now only pays for calls, SMS and data at the same price as their domestic service.
  • Thanks to the Regulation on cross-border portability of online content services, travelers are now able to access their online content service subscriptions to films, sports events, e-books, video games and music when travelling in the EU.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into effect on 25 May 2018, lays down a single set of rules for companies and public authorities when processing personal data, providing for better protection of personal data.
  • The adoption of the Geo-Blocking Regulation has ended the discriminatory practice that prevented online customers from accessing and purchasing products or services from a website based in another Member State. This broadens the choices available to citizens when shopping online.
  • The WiFi4EU Regulation will promote fast internet access by financing the creation of public hotspots such as parks, squares, libraries and museums all over the EU.
  • The Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services has made tariffs on cross-border delivery services more transparent, allowing consumers to better compare very diverse services and giving regulators more power to monitor the market.
  • The decision on the Marrakesh Treaty has facilitated access to published works for people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.

Remaining EU Digital Single Market Proposals

The remaining DSM legislative initiatives are currently being negotiated, most of which are ambitiously expected to be in place by the end of 2018 or mid-2019, including:

  • The proposal for the Revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) has three main aims: to regulate video-sharing platforms to protect minors from harmful content and citizens from hate speech, incitement to violence and terrorism; to create a level playing field between TV broadcasting and video-on-demand; and boost the competitiveness of TV broadcasters by relaxing advertising rules.
  • The e-Privacy Regulation proposal seeks a high level of privacy protection for electronic communications, aiming at striking a balance between an adequate level of privacy protection on the one hand and providing sufficient incentives for innovation on the other.
  • The Cybersecurity package will give a stronger and permanent mandate to the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and will also set up a European Cybersecurity Certification Framework. This should ensure trust and security in the Internet and tackle the current fragmentation of the cybersecurity market – with these certificates it will be easier for businesses to trade across borders and for purchasers to understand the security features of products and services.
  • Free Flow of Data – Some national laws prevent the free flow of data by requiring certain types of data to be stored within the Member States’ borders. This can limit the growth of the data economy and the EU Commission’s proposal sets the general principle of the free movement of non-personal data within the EU (with the only exemptions relating to public security).
  • The aim of the Single Digital Gateway is to ensure that EU citizens and businesses have access to centalised information and online administrative procedures when using their rights to mobility in the EU.
  • The Platforms to Business (P2B) proposal aims to regulate unfair business practices, i.e. favouring some business users over others for no overt reason, of dominant online actors (such as search engines, e-Commerce market places, app stores, social media for business and price comparison tools), which can undermine users’ trust and limit sales through these platforms. The draft Regulation proposes transparent ranking of algorithms and the setting up of an Observatory, whose main task will be to monitor the implementation of the P2B regulation.