Brussels, BELGIUM — Two years ago the European Commission announced plans to encourage innovation and improve the economy by creating a Digital Single Market in the EU for digital goods and services. Today, it offered its own midterm review on what has been done and guidance on what remains to be done.

The ambitious plan generated optimism that it would become easier for businesses, especially smaller businesses and startups, to sell across borders in the EU and for consumers to find attractive offers. Until now fragmented rules have made scaling up hard and limited the offers consumers benefit from.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which has advocated for business conditions that allow space for next generation innovators, was initially optimistic about the Digital Single Market proposal, however the reality of the plans in the past two years have been disappointing as they would not promote digital services or a single market. The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Vice President James Waterworth:

“The European Commission came up with the right strategy, but several of its proposals would actually make the situation worse by fragmenting the single market or making digital innovation harder in the EU.”

“The revision of the EU’s audio-visual rules is a good example. Today the rules allow a company to address the whole of the European market from its home country; the Commission proposes to change this so a company would in future need to follow twenty-eight sets of rules.

“Equally, the Commission’s proposals on copyright would fundamentally change the laws that underpin the success of the Internet, making it harder for people to find information and for creators to digitise; its proposals on ePrivacy would ban automated assistants meaning getting help at work is reserved for the wealthy few and is not available to the many.”

“The European Parliament and Council should keep the plan on track and ensure that the digital opportunity becomes a reality by safeguarding the integrity of the single market, benefitting consumers and the economy. The Commission should spend the next two years working closely with industry to come up with the best solutions on new challenges including cybersecurity and removing illegal content from the Internet. It should not hand down solutions but partner with those who make these solutions a reality.”

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