Since the new European Commission took office in November 2014, President Juncker has made the Digital Agenda one of the Commission's key priorities. Juncker has stated that the creation of a connected digital single market could generate up to EUR 250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the new Commission (2014-2019), thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and a vibrant knowledge-based society.

Recently, the Commission has revealed more about its planned measures for the TMT sector and its strategy with regard to the Digital Single Market (DSM).

Digital Single Market Strategy

Andrus Ansip is the Commission Vice-President for the DSM. He has assembled a team of 13 European Commissioners to produce a strategy for the creation of the DSM.

On 25 March the Commission set out three main areas on which it will focus as part of this strategy (see Digital Single Market Strategy: European Commission agrees areas for action). These are:

  1. Creating better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services; for example, by addressing issues such as geo-blocking, harmonised consumer and contract rules, parcel delivery, modernising copyright law, and simplifying VAT arrangements.
  2. Shaping the environment for digital networks and services to flourish; for example, by encouraging investment in infrastructure, improving co-ordination between Member States with regard to spectrum, and swift adoption of the Data Protection Regulation.
  3. Creating a European Digital Economy and Society with long-term growth potential; for example, through helping industries integrate new technologies, ensuring interoperability of new technologies and e-services, and addressing the growth of cloud-computing.

The Digital Single Market Strategy is set to be finalised and adopted in May 2015, with detailed proposals following over the next two years.

Competition enforcement

On 26 March the Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced that, following the setting up of a task force to look into the online sector generally, she plans to launch a competition inquiry in the e-commerce sector. The inquiry will focus on barriers to cross-border e-commerce in digital content and goods. Vestager will table her proposal to the Commission in the coming weeks (see Commissioner Vestager announces proposal for e-commerce sector inquiry). The text of her speech is available here.

Alongside this broader sector inquiry the Commission will also pursue specific areas for action. In addition to its on-going investigation into territorial restrictions in licencing agreements for movies distributed on Pay-TV (see Antitrust: Commission investigates restrictions affecting cross border provision of pay TV services), the Commission is also probing the market for online video games. Issues the Commission may be investigating include contractual and IP restrictions included in agreements for games that may restrict cross-border sales.

Implications for the TMT sector

It will be important for technology and media companies to follow these developments closely so that they can be ready to respond to the sector inquiry, and also to make sure that their business practices are in compliance with EU competition rules.