• Digital Single Market

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    Confident digital consumers are good for business. And vice versa

    In its ambitious digital single market strategy the European Commission has included several proposals designed to help consumers take advantage of the products and services on offer. But while confident consumers are good for business, it is also true th [read more]
    byJohn Higgins | 17/Oct/20165 min read
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    In its ambitious digital single market strategy the European Commission has included several proposals designed to help consumers take advantage of the products and services on offer. But while confident consumers are good for business, it is also true that confident businesses are good for consumers too.

    Digital technology is empowering consumers the world over. It has revolutionised how we communicate, work, travel, shop, learn, express and entertain ourselves. Consumers and their needs and wants lie at the centre of the process of digital product and service development.

    In such a highly competitive digital market tech companies cannot afford not to listen to their customers. Failure to deliver what they want leads rapidly to lost market share and shrinking sales.

    It’s important to remember that the interests of digital users and the providers of digital products and services are closely aligned. Especially when it comes to developing European policies aimed at protecting consumers.

    Policymakers must ensure that the legal environment they build allows consumers to grasp the opportunities that the technologies offer, while at the same time providing them with the safeguards they need against among other things the real risks of market failure.

    In its ambitious digital single market strategy the European Commission has included several proposals designed to help consumers take advantage of the products and services on offer. DIGITALEUROPE is very involved in these policy debates.

    Three policy areas deserve special attention: eCommerce, audiovisual media services, and copyright.

    DIGITALEUROPE welcomes the ambition to unlock the potential of eCommerce. We believe that this will not only be of benefit to consumers and businesses but also to the European economy as a whole.

    In this area, consumers are already benefiting from a strong set of consumer laws designed to build consumer trust online. We believe that it is very important – and fully within the spirit of the Commission’s better regulation initiative – to promote existing rules and push for their proper enforcement before considering new rules. This is particularly important to consider while the European Commission is in the middle of its REFIT Fitness Check of consumer rights legislation.

    As well as building trust among consumers, EU consumer policy should also aim to boost business confidence to sell online and across national borders.

    This is very much in consumers’ interests too because they stand to benefit from greater choice and more price competition. The two Directives covering digital contracts as well as the Geoblocking Regulation must seek to deliver legal certainty to businesses by encouraging traders and service providers to make their offers available to consumers from another EU country.

    Will the geoblocking initiative actually help reduce fragmentation in the digital single market and spur cross-border sales? It’s not clear. Companies have to adapt to a variety of national market conditions such as national standards of living, consumer habits and preferences, language requirements, as well as the need for businesses to comply with diverging local technical and legal rules on consumer rights, VAT rates, copyright, or rules on the disposal of electronic waste.

    These differences are what fragment the EU market, not how companies respond to them. If we really want to develop a digitally powered single market the EU needs to address the root causes of the fragmentation, not just the ways companies respond to them. In other words, there can only really be a Digital Single Market where a single market already exists.

    The EU effort to reform rules for audiovisual media services (AVMS) risks denying consumers the benefits that technology offers them. New online services and the development of new consumer devices capable of delivering these services to viewers at home or on the move, in real time or at a more convenient time later herald an explosion of consumer choice.

    And this consumer empowerment will lead to an increase in diversity in content. The AVMS Directive should look at this increase in consumer choice and its corresponding intensification of competition among suppliers to find ways to maximize the benefits to consumers.

    With reform of copyright law EU policymakers must avoid being coerced into defending a status quo that suits a particular set of commercial interests. Last December, the Commission correctly identified the flaws in Europe’s fragmented approach to copyright levies.

    Yet in its proposal for reform published last month copyright levies reform was skipped. Since then the Commission has said it may still take action to address what has been dubbed the ‘cassette tax’. There can’t be a digital single market when each EU country takes a different approach to copyright levies. Charging consumers many times over for the right to listen to the same piece of music, for example, is not only inefficient and inconsistent, it’s downright unfair.

    We wholeheartedly support the aims of the Digital Single Market. We also support policymakers’ efforts to make consumers feel more confident in the digital world. While confident consumers are good for business, it is also true that confident businesses are good for consumers too.

     

    Photo credits: Don McCullough
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  • Digital Single Market

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    How Poland plans to make the most of digital transformation

    The Digital Post talked to Krzysztof Szubert, Plenipotentiary of Minister for International Affairs and Strategic Advisor to the Minister, about Poland's ambitious plans to boost digital infrastructures and services.   The Digital Post: What are [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 11/Jul/20165 min read
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    The Digital Post talked to Krzysztof Szubert, Plenipotentiary of Minister for International Affairs and Strategic Advisor to the Minister, about Poland’s ambitious plans to boost digital infrastructures and services.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the main priorities of Digital Poland?

    Krzysztof Szubert

    Krzysztof Szubert: Poland aspires to the group of leading EU coun­tries, thus we need to take an active political po­sition with regard to digital transformation of the state. We need to support the strategy for devel­oping the information society combined with ef­ficient coordination of this process. Having that in mind, we have decided with Minister Anna Strezynska, to develop up to 20-pages long document Strategic Action Priorities of the Minister of Digital Affairs”. It is based on 5 pillars and 18 actions.

    The five fundamental principles are: 1) the state should serve the citizen – thanks to digital technology the state should con­nect dispersed institutions and change com­plex procedures into consistent and simple services; 2) access to the public network and services must be safe for our data and all types of transactions conducted in the network; 3) in order to pursue e-administration targets, but above all, to achieve social and econom­ic goals, it is necessary to accelerate the de­velopment of modern telecommunications infrastructure; 4) development of the desired innovative econ­omy needs permanent and easy access to data gathered by public services and we need to constantly – regardless of age – improve our digital competences to effective­ly benefit from digitization and compete on the global market.

    We are very much aware that this is not cherry-picking as for those principles to bear fruit it is necessary to observe them all together while developing any strategic public service actions. We have put together as many as 18 of them and their wide variety ranges from having one gate to services, and across adopting standards of electronic circulation of documents down to being more effective in the EU or other international institutions so that we have a stronger say on the law that is shaped up there.

     

    TDP: How these plans could make the difference?

    KS: First of all, we do have the strategy in place to follow. Over the last many years it has been the chaotic way of development and making available of electronic public services that have limited access to them to very narrow groups of recipients with their in­teroperability being far from ideal.

    Each Polish citizen, organization and entre­preneur should be able to settle any official matter electronically while contacting any level of public administration. When we deliver that, “we will win”. What makes this strategy stand out from any previous attempts is that we really want not only the whole government participating but also wide support from all other stakeholders. The draft priorities had been available for public comment and we received huge input that finally became part of what we are implementing now.

     

    TDP: What are the highest challenges Poland is facing in terms of digital?

    KS: Lack of coordination as well as deficit of efficient project management of Polish administration di­rectly affect the quality of development of e-ad­ministration which is all about providing facilita­tions for citizens and entrepreneurs. It is necessary to urgently improve methods of implementation of innovative projects and create the main center coordinating their management. To support that, we think that heading towards the national CIO model seems to be the right step. Efficiency of public administration systems is one of the conditions for the stability of the state – we have to convince our citizen and business to relay on them and to use them.

     

    TDP: Do the Digital Single Market meet the expectations of Polish government? What are in your opinion the most important aspects of the strategy?

    KS: Digitization is, in fact, the transformation of the state, rather than merely buying systems and equipment. By using modern technologies, the state can become a service provider. It is to develop faster, become more friendly and support the needs of citizens, entrepreneurs, organizations and local governments.

    The DSM strategy in general is helping address those needs in many areas, but we have to be sure that it fits well into our specific market – that there is no place for one-size-fits-all. Digital Single Market requires efforts towards removing the real problems to the development of e-commerce within the EU. The main challenges the smart DSM will have to face are threefold: making sure the undertaken efforts put first the citizen, the consumer and the Internet user while adding as less as possible to regulatory burden for business with having single market benefits spread fairly equally among Member States.

     

    TDP: Will Brexit affect European digital policies?

    KS: As you may know, a broader vision of the digital single market (incl. digital policy) in the EU – supported by the Polish Government – is set out in works of the group of like-minded EU Member States which has recently been very active in making a strong consolidated voice heard in Brussels. There are 14 Member States including UK & Poland in it. We will continue to keep the same vision of building the solid foundation of the digital economy and moving the single market to the digital age without imposing new burdens on businesses.

    The UK has so far been an important part of that message, and I hope it will continue to be such and that we can even convince other countries to “join the club”. Poland is now leading the V4 (the Visegrad Group) and we will stick to that vision regardless of the UK being in or out of the European Union, as long as digital single market and digital policies are bringing benefits both to the citizens and to the business sector. Therefore, one of the priorities of the Minister of Digital Af­fairs will be pursuing active and determined poli­cy to reinforce our participation in developing the EU and international solutions and securing Po­land’s social and economic benefits.

     

    Picture credits: ArchiDju
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  • Digital Single Market

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    Eva Kaili: How eHealth will benefit from less digital barriers in the EU

    The eHealth sector within the digital single market is expected to be worth 20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs, explains Greek MEP Eva Kaili. The Digital Post: What the EU is currently doing to speed up the development and spread of eHealth servi [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 28/Jun/20165 min read
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    The eHealth sector within the digital single market is expected to be worth 20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs, explains Greek MEP Eva Kaili.

    The Digital Post: What the EU is currently doing to speed up the development and spread of eHealth services?

    new logo-small

    Eva Kaili: Over the last years we have seen significant progress. There are many initiative at EU and national level, the most important of which is the EU eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020. The Digital Single Market also represents a huge step forward. Moreover, the EU is funding research and innovative initiatives in the field as well as helping SMEs operating in this sector.

     

    TDP: What are the main challenges for the further development of the ehealth technologies in Europe?

    EK: Different languages, different mentalities, different legislation, different taxation, different education systems: these are all big challenges that we have to face, because it is clear that the development of the sector depends on more coordination among the EU member states. For instance, we still have different accreditation and validation systems in each country. In addition, the digital divide that still runs between the EU states makes things more difficult. The EU action plan on eHealth addresses comprehensively these issues aiming at building a union in the field of eHealth by 2020. I think we are almost halfway. The opportunity is huge: the eHealth sector in the digital single market is expected to be worth 20 billion and tens of thousands of jobs.

     

    TDP: What further actions or policies should be taken at EU and national level?

    Eva

    EK: Overall, we need to go for smarter and flexible strategies which can be adapted to the peculiarities of very different countries. We cannot expect all member states to follow the same path at the same speed. I also think more has to be done on active aging as well as digital accessibility and digital literature. All these issues are fundamental to expand the reach and the adoption of eHealth tools among the population.

     

    TDP: Do you think the Digital Single Market strategy will deliver?

    EK: Yes, I think it can. We can already see the benefits of the efforts made in the last years towards a single digital market. Roaming fees, for instance, are about to disappear. Let me take another example in the field of eHealth. Thanks to eprescription you can have your medication in each country you go, just using your mobile phone.

     

    This is part of a series of interviews held during the conference 
    "Digital Single Market: Bridging the Gap" organized by 
    the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
    The event featured keynote speeches from Commissioner Oettinger
    Juhan Lepassaar and Robert Madelin (EPSC). 
    Other speakers included senior EU officials, parliamentarians, 
    trade bodies and business leaders who discussed the future challenges for 
    business in the areas of fintech, e-health and industry 4.0.
    

     

     

    Picture credits: Chuck Patch
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  • Digital Single Market

    Mastercard

    Ann Cairns: How we are leveraging digital technology for financial inclusion

    On the sidelines of the European Business Summit The Digital Post met Ann Cairns, MasterCard's President of International Markets, to discuss how digital technologies are making a difference in fighting the exclusion from financial services.   Th [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 13/Jun/20168 min read
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    On the sidelines of the European Business Summit The Digital Post met Ann Cairns, MasterCard’s President of International Markets, to discuss how digital technologies are making a difference in fighting the exclusion from financial services.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the main activities or initiatives on financial inclusion which MasterCard has launched?

    Ann-Cairns-200x200

    Ann Cairns: At MasterCard, we are committed to reaching people previously excluded from financial services and as part of this we have pledged to reach 500 million new consumers worldwide by 2020.

    This means providing solutions that allow them to participate in the formal financial system. We have made good progress. And we fundamentally believe that technology, fintech and electronic payments are powerful tools to ensure we achieve that goal.

    We have many initiatives worldwide, including several in emerging economies.  For example, we have a partnership with the Social Security Agency in South Africa to issue 10 million biometric enabled social security Debit MasterCard cards.

    The key feature of these cards is that the biometric functionality enables the Social Security Agency to ensure only qualifying grant recipients collect the grants.

    A landmark public-private collaboration with the Egyptian government we announced last year aims at financially including 54 million citizens.

    We worked with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance and the Egyptian Banking Corporation to roll out a digital ID programme that link citizens’ national ID to the existing national mobile money platform.

    Financial exclusion is not just an issue in countries with emerging economies, it is a big challenge for many Europeans as well. There are many parts in Europe where vast parts of the population simply have no access or do not use formal financial services.

    MasterCard commissioned a 10 -market online survey to understand European consumers’ perceptions of financial and digital inclusion, through the lens of gender inclusion.

    The results of the survey showed that while almost half of consumers in Europe feel that there is a somewhat high or high level of financial inclusion in their country, less than one in four (22%) agree that Europe is the most financially and digitally (24%) inclusive region in the world.

    MasterCard has partnered with many public authorities to launch systems to encourage financial inclusion. For example, we helped the London Borough of Brent to develop a new prepaid card programme for social benefits. The scheme ensures the money is being used by the right people and provides cost savings to the Council and consumers.

     

    TDP: How can we leverage digital technology for financial inclusion?

    AC: We see the future moving in the direction of the Internet of Things.  As we made progress with financial inclusion we started to see that digital identity was actually something that was being used by governments around the world to roll out and register people, and also to include them in society. This is how we started to see inclusion as much broader than just financial inclusion and how it encompasses digital and gender.

    Innovation is a key element for moving to a digitally inclusive society: MasterCard fully supports innovation and entering of new payment methods. The key to achieving inclusion lies in digital payment programmes. In order to deliver on consumers’ and merchants’ expectations for ever better ways of connecting the two MasterCard is continuously looking into new technologies and opportunities that can make that happen.

    Public authorities also have a huge role to play. By switching their payments, be it social disbursements, salary payments or any other kind of payments onto electronic platforms, they can not only gain efficiencies for themselves but also make a significant contribution to bringing people into the financial mainstream.

    Mobile payment platforms have also served as an opportunity to incorporate more individuals into the formal, existing financial system. While many people still do not have access to a bank account, more than 1 in 3 people in the world (2.6 billion) will be using smartphones within the next two years. And mobile phone and tablet users will be making almost 200 billion transactions annually by 2019[1].

    For example, earlier this year MasterCard ‘s HomeSend venture expanded its agreement with the Vodafone Group for M-Pesa – the mobile phone service which allows people with no bank account to send and receive money, top up their phone and enjoy other services all through their mobile phones. Globally, M-Pesa now reaches 25.3 million users (including users in Europe, for example in Romania and Albania).

     

    TDP: MasterCard has just published a new study on financial inclusion. What are its main findings?

    AC: MasterCard commissioned a 10 -market online survey to understand European consumers’ perceptions of financial and digital inclusion, through the lens of gender inclusion.

    The results of the survey showed that while almost half of consumers in Europe feel that there is a somewhat high or high level of financial inclusion in their country, less than one in four (22%) agree that Europe is the most financially and digitally (24%) inclusive region in the world.

    Other key findings include:

    –  Fewer than half of Europeans (49%) believe there is a high level of financial inclusion in their country.

    –  The vast majority of Europeans (79%) believe men have a higher degree of financial and digital inclusion than women.

    –  88% of respondents stated equal opportunities for Europeans in terms of access to financial and digital products, irrespective of gender, are vital for an open and inclusive society, but only 66% agree they have equal access themselves.

    The results demonstrated that, in general, digital and financial inclusion were experiencing a very similar perception issue. So as the EU looks to build a true digital single market in Europe in which people can interact and transact cross-border as seamlessly as in their own country, we need to focus on tearing down the real barriers and ensure that everyone can reap the benefits of a more inclusive world. The Digital Single Market needs to be built with the consumer or end-user in mind.

     

    TDP: Digital inclusion is still an issue also in several EU countries. Do you see governments committing enough to fixing the problem?

    AC: What we see is that the perception of digital inclusion is comparable to inclusive growth. We believe that digital exclusion usually triggers or is triggered by other kinds of exclusion, such as financial or gender exclusion. The assumption that financial exclusion and in turn digital exclusion is a problem solely in developing economies alone could not be further from the truth. We found that roughly 90 million people in Western Europe are still underserved.[2]

    If we look at Europe – the European Commission has done some great work on financial inclusion in recent years. The EU Payments Account Directive was adopted in 2014 and provides for the right for all EU citizens to open a payment account that allows them to perform essential operations, such as receiving their salary, pensions and allowances or payment of utility bills etc.

    With the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission is promoting technology and digital throughout the EU. As I referred to when speaking at the European Business Summit earlier this month, what is important is that inclusiveness is embedded into all digital policy initiatives. We need to ensure that the Digital Single Market is built with the citizen’s needs in mind so that it adds value to him or her.

    From MasterCard’s experience, the increased engagement of government helps drive greater expansion of financial inclusion. For example, in the UK, we are working with many local authorities who are now issuing welfare payments through pre-paid cards.

    Some of them have gone entirely cashless and processing all disbursements (e.g. welfare payments, child benefit, asylum seekers, etc.) electronically. Through these initiatives, citizens now have quicker and more secure access to their benefits. Meanwhile, we are seeing how the authorities themselves are enjoying significant savings thanks to increased efficiencies.

     

    TDP: How can the private sector help public institutions or cooperate with them on expanding digital literacy as well as digital skills?

    AC: The private sector is at the forefront of driving financial inclusion. But obviously we cannot do this alone: Public authorities have a crucial role to play. The Commission has recently consulted on various initiatives and published some very interesting proposals in areas such as e-government for example.

    We welcome the Commission’s emphasis on public private cooperation as this is an area where MasterCard is very active and where we partner frequently with public institutions.[3] The best example is the work around social disbursements onto prepaid cards.

    Although the UK is one of the more advanced markets when it comes to promoting electronic payments for government expenditure, other countries are also making good progress.

    In Italy, for example, we work with the national postal service to provide a simpler and more transparent tax collection system. We rolled-out new electronic payment terminals to help millions of Italians pay their taxes in the post office in a fast and safe way. In general, the benefits of going more digital are obvious.

     

    ((1] Juniper Research – Mobile commerce transactions to approach 200bn by 2019: http://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/mobile-commerce-transactions-to-approach-200bn-by
    [2] New Financial Inclusion Study Spotlights Europe’s Financially Excluded, Press release available: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/press-releases/new-financial-inclusion-study-spotlights-europes-financially-excluded/
    [3] For more information on our e-government activities: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/photos/mastercard-government-services-and-solutions/

     

     

    Picture Credits: John Ragai
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  • Digital Single Market

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    How public libraries promote digital inclusion

    In its “New Skills Agenda for Europe”, the European Commission outlines the need to spread digital skills and fight digital exclusion and acknowledges the important contribution of public libraries. In one year, 4.6 million Europeans accessed the inte [read more]
    byIlona Kish | 10/Jun/20166 min read
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    In its “New Skills Agenda for Europe”, the European Commission outlines the need to spread digital skills and fight digital exclusion and acknowledges the important contribution of public libraries. In one year, 4.6 million Europeans accessed the internet for the first time at their public library and 2.3 million people attended digital literacy courses in libraries.

    What does it mean to be digitally literate? The European Commission has its indicators: starting from browsing, searching and filtering information, to protecting personal data and coding. From the growing need for digital skills in the workplace, to benefiting from a range of services such as e-government and online banking, a baseline of digital skills is vital to full participation in modern society.

    The danger is that with the digital revolution, we risk leaving many people behind. Nearly half of the EU has insufficient digital skills and nearly one in five people has never used the internet.

    Older people and marginalised groups are especially at risk of digital exclusion. But the issue of digital illiteracy is also systemic in education; only 30% of students in the EU can be considered as digitally competent.

    This is clearly a challenge for formal education systems. To meet this challenge, institutions like public libraries have an important role to play. There are 65,000 public libraries in the EU and 100 million people visit them every year.

    Public libraries are not just a place to read and borrow books; they are a network of open spaces where people supplement their formal education, working on their digital skills and undertaking a huge range of other educational activities.

    The data backs this up. In one year:

    • 4.6 million Europeans accessed the internet for the first time at their public library

    • 250,000 Europeans found a job thanks to internet access at a public library

    • 2.3 million people attended digital literacy courses in libraries

    The European Commission launched yesterday A New Skills Agenda for Europe,  outlining how a boost in skills could help to tackle some of Europe’s greatest social and economic challenges. A “Skills Guarantee” has been announced to help people who are long-term unemployed get back to work, and a “Skills Tool Kit for Third Country Nationals” will be rolled out to help refugees and other migrants integrate into new communities.

    An additional important element of the New Skills Agenda is the “Digital Skills for Europe” initiative, to boost the public’s competencies online and meet the objective of a European Digital Single Market.

    We need to address digital skills in schools. However, in order to reach the widest group of people possible, we must also empower non-formal learning institutions. The vital role of public libraries as free-to-access community hubs comes into particular focus when it comes to the inclusion of hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups in policies to promote education and skills.

    For example, Bozhidar Tchergarov, a blind Master’s student in Bulgaria, used his public library to learn how to use a computer and continues to attend library-run ICT training courses today. Or Filippo Gruni, a digital entrepreneur in Italy who has created a makerspace in his public library to improve the digital skills of his community.

    As acknowledged by the Commission’s proposal to the Council on the Skills Guarantee, strengthening skills in Europe “should be encouraged to involve a broad range of actors, social partners, education and training providers, employers, intermediary and sectorial organisations, local and regional economic actors, employment, social and community services, libraries, civil society organisations.”

    It is great to see the European Commission recognising the fantastic work being done to improve skills at public libraries across Europe. If you are interested in learning more about the role of libraries in digital skills development, visit us during the next EU Code Week (18-20 October) at the European Parliament, where Public Libraries 2020 will host an interactive exhibition on how Europe’s public libraries are meeting the digital age.

     

     

    Picture credits: Eric Drost

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  • Digital Single Market

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    Brian Ager: Digital Single Market needs faster implementation

    The Digital Single Market strategy is a step in the right direction but the Commission must speed up its implementation, says Brian Ager, secretary-general of the European Roundtable of Industrialists. The Digital Post: What is your general opinion about [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 20/May/20163 min read
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    The Digital Single Market strategy is a step in the right direction but the Commission must speed up its implementation, says Brian Ager, secretary-general of the European Roundtable of Industrialists.

    The Digital Post: What is your general opinion about the Digital Single Market Strategy?

    Brian Ager: We thought that it was an important first step to get everybody behind a common approach, and I believe it was a good move. I think it’s important to get an orientation, to get it out there and see what the reactions are.

    new logo-small

    TDP: Do you think this strategy is enough business-friendly? Can it provide a sufficient conducive investment climate that will help Europe catch up with other markets in the digital sector?

    BA: Only time will tell. To be fair, a few legislative proposals have been already presented. But for the rest, the Strategy is only a piece of paper that in itself is worthless: it’s what flows from that that will matter. It is now important that the Strategy is translated into a series of policy measures that are the right ones. Are they going to be implemented effectively? And are they going to be implemented in a coherent way across the whole of the Union? If you can tick those boxes, then you’re likely to see investment flow. But the Strategy in itself it doesn’t. Well, it is better to say that it will not automatically lead to investment.

    TDP: Do you think that the Strategy may lead to over-regulation?

    BA: I think it’s a possibility. But this must not happen, if we’re serious about digital economy, because if it does, then you strangle the digital potential of the whole continent. Another matter of concern is that the implementation is too slow.

    TDP: A number of observers from outside Europe pointed out that Europe is using a punitive approach towards US internet success stories or internet companies. Some are even talking about “digital protectionism”.

    BA: The Internet economy is global by definition: if you want to seize its opportunities you need to take a global approach for a global market. I can’t see how Europe could be protectionist, it wouldn’t work anyway.

    TDP: What do you think of the European Commission’s plan on Industry 4.0?

    BA: Our first reaction is that overall the plan is a good step in the right direction. But I can’t help but notice that it was presented almost one year since the digital single market strategy was unveiled. We need to speed up the entire process.

    BA

    TDP: Many fear that Industry 4.0 will be a huge job killer.

    BA: I don’t think it’s so much doom and gloom. We feel clearly it will lead to some job losses, but it should also lead to the creation of other jobs, because you’re switching the economy from one type of activity to another. To be sure, the development of Industry 4.0 will lead to a switch from more low-skilled jobs to more high-skilled jobs. This change brings us to another crucial point, that is the responsiveness of the education systems. An extra effort is needed to drive our students towards math, technology and science-related studies, including math, physics, engineering and computer science. Today the industry complains that it’s missing half a million ICT engineers, software engineers, even mainstream engineering. The problem can be addressed only if we start working from the basic education. As far as the exiting work employment is concerned, we need to think very hard about vocational training, lifelong learning, re-skilling, because things are going to come along faster and faster.

     

    This is part of a series of interviews held during the conference 
    "Digital Single Market: Bridging the Gap" organized by 
    the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
    The event featured keynote speeches from Commissioner Oettinger
    Juhan Lepassaar and Robert Madelin (EPSC). 
    Other speakers included senior EU officials, parliamentarians, 
    trade bodies and business leaders who discussed the future challenges for 
    business in the areas of fintech, e-health and industry 4.0.

     

    Picture credits: Matt

     

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  • Digital Single Market

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    Emma McClarkin: Aiming for a balanced approach to cross-border portability

    As the regulation on cross-border portability goes through the European Parliament, MEP Emma McClarkin explains why it is important that the new legislation strike a balance between the needs of market, consumers and the creative industry. How the Eu [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 13/May/20165 min read
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    As the regulation on cross-border portability goes through the European Parliament, MEP Emma McClarkin explains why it is important that the new legislation strike a balance between the needs of market, consumers and the creative industry.

    How the European Parliament is expected to approach the legislation on cross-border portability?

     

    What are the main elements to shape a balanced legislation?

    What are the positions to emerge in the JURI and IMCO committee of the European Parliament?

    How the proposal should define the scope of cross-border utilisation?

    What is your opinion on the wider debate over the reform of the EU copyright framework?

     

     

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  • Digital Single Market

    JL

    Juhan Lepassaar: DSM Strategy, fears of over-regulation are unjustified

    The Digital Post spoke to Juhan Lepassaar, Head of Cabinet to Vice-President Ansip, about the latest progress of the Digital Single Market strategy.   The Digital Post: How is the implementation of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy progre [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 11/May/20167 min read
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    The Digital Post spoke to Juhan Lepassaar, Head of Cabinet to Vice-President Ansip, about the latest progress of the Digital Single Market strategy.

     

    The Digital Post: How is the implementation of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy progressing?

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    Juhan Lepassaar: So far, we have adopted two key proposals on the harmonisation of digital contracts rules and on portability of digital content. In addition, in February the Commission presented legislation intended for greater coordination in the use of the 700 MHz band for mobile services. Last month, we also published a package on Industry 4.0 and e-government, containing a number of non-legislative actions that will help create the right environment to boost the digitalisation of the European industry.

    During the month of May, we are going to unveil our e-commerce package, which will include actions to tackle unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of online discrimination practices. We will also present a proposal for the review of the audiovisual media services directive and a communication on the role of online platforms. Before the summer break, we plan to move forward with the public-private partnership on cyber security.

    Then, the next big things are the review of the European telecoms framework in September or early October and the next steps of the modernisation of EU copyright rules. Finally, in autumn we will act on the free flow of data, we will table proposals on VAT for digital products and on corporate enforcement rules.

    TDP: According to a number of observers some proposals would actually mean more regulation on tech industry at the expense of their capability to innovate and invest. Are these fears justified?

    JL: We believe that these fears are unjustified. We do not want to undermine the way the digital economy operates. Our proposals are balanced: they allow enough flexibility without adding more regulatory burdens. Take the example of digital platforms. The commission has concluded that it wouldn’t be judicious to have a horizontal regulation on platforms because they are way too diversified. Hence, we are opting for a problem-driven approach.

    That is, once a problem is identified and clearly defined, we might act through regulation or opting for self-regulation initiatives. We’ve already applied this approach on the issue of hate speech on digital platforms. That doesn’t mean that existing rules on certain areas like platform content, transparency or the issue of the so-called value gap will not be further clarified within the DSM initiatives.

    We aim to simplify the environment for tech industry in Europe. This is what we do by harmonising rules in different areas. For example, one clear set of rules for consumer protection in the EU, rather than a patchwork of 28 different national regimes, makes it easier for businesses to grow across borders. In the end, this is actually about less rules and better regulation.

    TDP:What are the key elements or the strategy to fix the EU-US digital divide?

    JL: First, reducing the regulatory fragmentation. That is the key issue that differentiates the European market from the US. Second: access to finance for our tech industry. We have set out an agenda, which will reduce fragmentation and bring down the barriers for businesses opening to them a market of 500 millions customers.

    TDP:Businesses in the United Kingdom and other countries are concerned about the cross-border tax system. How the Commission intends to modernise the VAT for digital products?

    JL: There is a difference if a business has to deal with 28 taxation authorities or only one. What we want to ensure is that, especially small and medium size businesses when they do business across the borders will only deal with their own tax authority and the rest is taken care of by tax authorities between member states. The commission in its digital single market strategy has already highlighted the fact that in the area of e-commerce we need a taxation threshold to protect the smallest businesses. We will act upon this with our proposals that are forthcoming in December.

    TDP: The upcoming revision of EU telecoms framework will revolve around the usual dilemma, more deregulation versus more competition. How do you strike that balance?

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    JL: That’s a good question. Telecoms operators are right when they say they face regulatory burdens that new players do not. It is our job to determine whether we can reduce the regulatory burden to all and whether there are still any areas where we need to make sure that all the players that provide same services also abide by the same rules. I think the answer is a bit of both approaches.

    TDP: What are the plans of the commission with respect to industry 4.0?

    JL: The plan that the Commission published last month includes issues like standardisation and interoperability as well as measures to boost Cloud Computing and Big Data technologies in Europe. The proposal is also designed to help digital public services to inter-connect with each other across borders so that businesses, if they want to do business across the borders, can do it easily without having to submit the same information to different public authorities.

    The plan also links up to the forthcoming initiatives on the free flow of data. It is also very important that the revision of the telecoms framework touch upon the issue of spectrum, which is a commodity increasingly needed by the industry for the internet of things or self-driving cars for example. All in all, Industry 4.0 relates to all DSM initiatives.

     

    This is the first of a series of interviews held during the conference 
    "Digital Single Market: Bridging the Gap" organized by 
    the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
    The event featured keynote speeches from Commissioner Oettinger and Robert Madelin (EPSC). 
    Other speakers included senior EU officials, parliamentarians, 
    trade bodies and business leaders who discussed the future challenges for 
    business in the areas of fintech, e-health and industry 4.0.

     

     

    Picture credits: Metropolitan Transportation Authority
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  • Digital Single Market

    Oettinger

    Günther Oettinger: Time to build a ‘gigabit’ Europe

    Commissioner for Digital Economy Günther Oettinger keynoted the "Digital Single Market: Bridging the gap" event organized on May 3rd by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. Here are 4 highlights from his speech you need to be aware of.   [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 04/May/20165 min read
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    Commissioner for Digital Economy Günther Oettinger keynoted the “Digital Single Market: Bridging the gap” event organized on May 3rd by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. Here are 4 highlights from his speech you need to be aware of.

     

    Still lagging behind…

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    Europe has a number of competences and success stories in the tech sector, but it is still lagging far behind. Take creative online platforms, applications, social networks, new services: Almost nothing of these comes from Europe. The continent is not really in a good shape. We have to reverse this situation.

     

    Digital Single Market now

    Since decades we have created a common European market in a wide spectrum of sectors, giving a clear advantage to our industries in the context of the biggest market in world. There is no argument whatsoever against enlarging the benefits of the common market to the digital sector. Such benefits are expected to be much bigger if one looks to the markets of Europe’s associated partners such as Ukraine or Turkey. Fixing the regulatory fragmentation is the key issue: we do not need 28 national silos. In this respect, the general data protection regulation adopted a few months ago is the example to be followed.

     

    A gigabyte society

    The Digital Single Market cannot come reality without adequate infrastructures. Europe must aim for a gigabyte society if it does not want to fail. In order to make the most of booming sectors such as development of Internet of Things, machine-to-machine, or e–health, Europe cannot keep leveraging on 30 Mbps or 100 Mbps forever. It should start thinking of networks capable of reaching speeds of 500mbps or higher.

     

    Digital divide(s)3907205501_e2a058e57f

    Europe is still grappling with two types of digital divide. The first concerns the connectivity gap between rural and metropolitan areas, which in turn requires more comprehensive investment strategies in digital infrastructures. The second lies between European citizens with digital skills and those who lack technological education. Member states should give more priority to the digital education of their citizens: the European Commission will step up its efforts to help them set up related policies on digital skills.

     

    Beside Mr Oettinger, the conference "Digital Single Market: Bridging the Gap" 
    featured keynote speeches from Juhan Lepassaar, Head of Cabinet to Andrus Ansip, 
    and Robert Madelin (EPSC). Other speakers included senior EU officials, 
    parliamentarians, trade bodies and business leaders who discussed the future 
    challenges for business in the areas of fintech, e-health and industry 4.0.

     

    Picture credits: Sergiu Bacioiu
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  • Digital Single Market

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    Catherine Bearder: Why tax deals harm our digital economy (and its businesses)

    If governments resort to brokering individual tax deals, such as the recent UK's tax deal with Google, we end up with a race to the bottom that ultimately would be damaging our digital economy, says Lib-Dem MEP Catherine Bearder. Brexit? Complete econom [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 02/May/20163 min read
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    If governments resort to brokering individual tax deals, such as the recent UK’s tax deal with Google, we end up with a race to the bottom that ultimately would be damaging our digital economy, says Lib-Dem MEP Catherine Bearder. Brexit? Complete economic lunacy.

    What is the added value to the Digital Single Market that the UK might bring if it stays in the EU?

    CBThere are huge opportunities around the corner to be unleashed through the creation of the EU’s digital single market.

    The UK is a world leader in e-commerce, so making it easier for businesses to sell goods and services online across the single market will bring massive benefits to our economy and to British consumers. Leaving the EU now just as we are on the cusp of this digital revolution in Europe would be complete economic lunacy.

     

    What is your opinion about the recent UK’s tax deal with Google?

    The UK Chancellor could and should have got a better deal for the UK taxpayer. It is not acceptable that there is one rule for large multinational companies and another for the small businesses paying their taxes and struggling to get by.

    Companies like Google make an important contribution to jobs and the economy, but that doesn’t mean they should be able to get away with failing to pay their fair share in tax.

    Broadly speaking, what sort of measures should the EU undertake to ensure that multinationals such as Google pay a fair share of tax in each country in which they operate?

    The recent EU agreement to introduce greater transparency over tax deals is an important step forward. But what the history of tax deals in Europe shows us that we need a more coordinated approach to ensure accompanies pay their fair share.

    If governments resort to brokering individual tax deals, we end up with a race to the bottom. The most important underlying principle should be that tax is paid where the actual economic activity takes place.

    This can be a real challenge in the digital sector, but it is one we must overcome if we are to create a level-playing field and a thriving and fair economy.

     
    Picture credits: James Petts
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