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Andrus Ansip (left), European commissioner leading the digital single market project team, and Günther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, at the strategy launch in May.
mixed reaction to proposals
digital single market
The new European Commission has moved swiftly to release detailed plans for the ‘digital single market’ (DSM) with an aim “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 a year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” the EC says. The DSM strategy includes a set of actions to be delivered by the end of 2016 and is built on three ‘pillars’ or themes: better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; and maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.
There are 16 proposals in these three pillars that include: ending unjustified geo-blocking; enacting a modern, more European copyright law; a review of the satellite and cable directive to assess if its scope needs to be enlarged to broadcasters’ online transmissions; and a review of the audiovisual media framework (such as for on-demand services). The Commission is also promising ‘an ambitious overhaul’ of EU telecoms rules, including more effective spectrum coordination and creating incentives for investment in high-speed broadband, and is proposing a ‘European free flow of data initiative’ for the free movement of data in the European Union. Online platforms and intermediaries will also come under scrutiny. While many have welcomed the strategy as ambitious and comprehensive, there is widespread comment that there is a lack of detail on implementation. The scope of the telecoms part of the strategy alone is large and subject to many ongoing battles, such as on roaming, net neutrality, spectrum release and fixed-network competition. Then the recognition that telecoms operators, the audiovisual industry and ‘platform’ players are all now in the same world poses many questions about how a level playing field can be achieved. Documents about the DSM strategy are at: bit.ly/1EeXh9b
The European Commission has also adopted a ‘better regulation agenda’, said to be a comprehensive package of reforms covering the entire policy cycle that will “boost openness and transparency in the EU decision-making process, improve the quality of new laws through better impact assessments of draft legislation and amendments, and promote constant and consistent review of existing EU laws”. See bit.ly/1Ki5ZsP
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