The European Union has announced that it will be moving towards integrating its 28 countries into adigital single market, with hopes that this process will be completed before the end of 2016.
Right now, all 28 European Union countries have their own set of e-commerce laws, copyright laws and digital media regulations that are applicable to digital content within their borders. With 315 million Europeans using the Internet daily, the European Union believes that the fragmentation and barriers that have emerged through 28 individual national markets are an impediment to growth.
Their policy solution is a digital single market. The European Commission defines a DSM as a market “in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured and where 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.”
In practical terms, the European Commission believes that taking down national barriers, and creating a DSM, will bring about tangible economic benefits to the European Union as a whole. Their data shows that a fully functional DSM will generate an additional €415 billion for the economy, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and further cement Europe as a vibrant, knowledge-based society.
The strategy to implement the DSM is based on 3 pillars. These 3 pillars collectively include 16 recommendations or next steps that the EC plans to undertake:
- Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe: This is where the bulk of the work will happen on issues like copyright harmonization, ending geo-blocking, changing VAT rules and administrative burdens.
- Shaping the right environment for digital networks and services to flourish: The initiatives that are more structurally focused – like new audiovisual rules, new telecom rules and e-Privacy directives will be under scrutiny in this section. Importantly, the EU has committed to reviewing the role of online platforms in the marketplace in an attempt to determine their role in eliminating illegal content.
- Creating a European Digital Economy and society with growth potential: These are the more high-level concerns with ensuring that the DSM can drive growth and innovation.