The European Commission is taking stock of what has been accomplished regarding its Strategy for a Digital Single Market. Two years ago, on 6 May 2015, Commissioners Oettinger and Ansip announced their strategy to create a single European market in the online world. Such market should rest 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.
Back in 2015, 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.”
Yesterday, the Commission published its Mid-Term Review. The picture that is drawn is – no wonder – a positive one. And indeed, the Commission has pushed the idea of a digital single market quite intensively. Reference is made to not less than 35 legislative and political initiatives. Many of them grounded on public consultations which were concerned with a broad variety of topical aspects of today’s digital world. The Commission emphasizes that it is the aim to address the true needs of enterprises as well as consumers across Europe.
By way of example, the Mid-Term Review highlights the abolishing of retail roaming charges, the banning of unjustified geo-blocking and the creation of a digital infrastructure allowing the European digital economy to flourish. Also, the Commission underlines the massive investment the European Union is willing to make in the context of the accomplishing of a digital single market. In this context, the Connecting Europe Broadband Funds as well as the 5G Action Plan need a mention.
Not only with regard to the new copyright law the Commission is proposing, the draft directive on audiovisual media services, and the draft regulation on online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions of television and radio programmes, the Commission calls upon the Parliament and the Council to engage in order to achieve their goals by the end of 2018.
Turning to what the Commission sees ahead, the mid-term review indicates in particular three areas in which further measures have to and will be taken:
- Spurring the European data economy
- Jointly tackling growing cybersecurity challenges
- Promoting fairness and responsibility of online platforms
In those areas, the Commission announces several legislative measures for autumn 2017 and spring 2018 respectively. Thus, it is no time to sit back in Brussels.