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EU Digital Single Market: Commission sets out 16 initiatives to make it happen

The Internet and digital technologies are transforming our world – in every walk of life and in every line of business. Europe must embrace the digital revolution and open up digital opportunities for people and businesses. How? By using the power of the EU’s Single Market. Today, the European Commission unveiled its detailed plans to create a Digital Single Market, thereby delivering on one of its top priorities.

At present, barriers online mean citizens miss out on goods and services: only 15% shop online from another EU country; Internet companies and start-ups cannot take full advantage of growth opportunities online: only 7% of SMEs sell cross-border (see Factsheet for more figures). Finally, businesses and governments are not fully benefitting from digital tools. The aim of the Digital Single Market is to tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to a single one. A fully functional Digital Single Market could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The Digital Single Market Strategy adopted today includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of next year (see Annex). It is built on three pillars: (1) better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; (3) maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Today, we lay the groundwork for Europe’s digital future. I want to see pan-continental telecoms networks, digital services that cross borders and a wave of innovative European start-ups. I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe. Exactly a year ago, I promised to make a fully Digital Single Market one of my top priorities. Today, we are making good on that promise. The 16 steps of our Digital Single Market Strategy will help make the Single Market fit for a digital age.”

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “Our Strategy is an ambitious and necessary programme of initiatives that target areas where the EU can make a real difference. They prepare Europe to reap the benefits of a digital future. They will give people and companies the online freedoms to profit fully from Europe’s huge internal market. The initiatives are inter-linked and reinforce each other. They must be delivered quickly to better help to create jobs and growth. The Strategy is our starting point, not the finishing line.”

Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger said: “Our economies and societies are going digital. Future prosperity will depend largely on how well we master this transition. Europe has strengths to build on, but also homework to do, in particular to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods. We have to prepare for a modern society and will table proposals balancing the interests of consumers and industry.”

Monique Goyens, The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Director General, commented:   “We welcome this ambitious Strategy. It aims to boost consumer trust online while ensuring better access to goods, services and digital content from across the EU. Its success will depend upon enhancing market competition and setting high consumer protection standards. When implementing these plans, consumers’ needs must be front and centre.”

EUROCHAMBRES (representing EU-wide Chambers of Commerce) has mixed views on the new Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, published today by the European Commission.  While the package contains some important new elements, it fails to adequately focus on ensuring that already established legislation and processes are fit for the digital era.

EUROCHAMBRES’ Secretary General, Arnaldo Abruzzini, said: “The DSM addresses a number of key issues such as VAT simplification, digital skills and simplification of contract rules.  But legislative and administrative barriers in place for many years still restrict smaller businesses’ ability to capitalise on the benefits of technological advances.  The DSM should have gone further in addressing these barriers.”

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