On May 6, 2015, the European Commission unveiled a long awaited “Digital Single Market Strategy” (the “Strategy”)—a broad plan with the stated intention of breaking down barriers between European Union (“EU”) nations in the hopes of moving from 28 separate national, digital markets to a single one. 6 The webpage unveiled along with the strategy, http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/, cites economic figures that such a single market would create 3.8 million jobs and contribute 415 billion euros per year to the collective EU economy.7
The Strategy rests on three broad “pillars,” with corresponding initiatives underneath. Under the first pillar--“Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe”--the individual initiatives include enforcing consumer rules more rapidly and consistently; ending geo-blocking; and identifying potential competition concerns affecting European e-commerce markets. In support of that initiative, an antitrust competition inquiry into the e-commerce sector was launched simultaneously with the Strategy.
The second pillar--“Creating he right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish”--highlights initiatives such as analyzing the role of online platforms such as search engines, social media, and app stores in the market; reinforcing trust and security in digital services, namely through the handling of personal data; and proposing an industry partnership in the area of cybersecurity. The third pillar--“Maximi[z]ing the growth potential of the digital economy”--is to include an initiative proposing a European free flow of data; and defines priorities for standards and interoperability in areas such as e-health.
While the Strategy is merely aspirational at this point, the EC has proposed to turn the initiatives into legislative proposals by the end of 2016. In the meantime, it will begin taking steps, such as the antitrust inquiry mentioned above, to further these goals without legislative language