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Digital Single Market Strategy

​​​​​​​​​Digital Single Market

​The Digital Single Market Strategy contains a coherent vision with the aim and ambition to propel Europe to the forefront of the world’s digital economy. 

The strategy is at this stage, however, no more than a vision. As the strategy acknowledges, Europe has fallen behind other regions in this field, and at least five European Commission directorates will be involved in its transposition. >> ​​ESBG position on dig​itisation

ESBG recommends the following guiding principles:

  • ​Although the continuous creation of a single market is valued, the global, worldwide nature of the topics in scope and challenges must be acknowledged by policy makers and legislators. Any "fortress Europe" approach is doomed from the onset.
  • Online customers and everyday internet users are at the heart of the Digital Single Market Strategy, but it must be acknowledged that a very powerful European consumer protection framework has been established over the past 15 years. The initiatives most in need of a legislative update – because their rules predate the digital explosion – are copyright, data protection, and the telecom rules.
  • The initiatives pertaining to data are most likely to create significant value for the European economy. Significant time has elapsed since the proposal for a revision of the Data Protection rules was issued, and

ESBG recommends that the European Commission takes advantage of this delay to more forcefully connect the revision to the new environment. Citizen and consumer protection are of course important, but it is also critical to allow service providers to process such data, when agreed with their customers, on the basis of rules harmoniously implemented across the EU.

  • Innovation is most likely to blossom outside incumbents and established channels and patterns. However, this does not provide grounds for policy makers and legislators to repeatedly jeopardize the potential for a level playing field – for both incumbents and new entrants.
  • The topics covered by the Strategy are interdependent. It is therefore essential that a transversal roadmap is formulated and implemented to ensure coherence throughout the deployment of the Strategy.

​​Background on EU Digital Single Market

The European Commission communicated the Digital Single Market Strategy on 6 May 2015. It heralds the beginning of the transposition of the Political Guidelines for the next Commission assigned by incoming President Juncker in July 2014.

The Digital Single Market Strategy lists 16 actions that the Commission wants to progress by the end of 2016. The strategy rests on three pillars: better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe; creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish; and maximising the growth potential of the European digital economy. 

The Communication is a strong political statement of intent from policy, business, and legal perspectives.

​State of play of EU Digital Single Market

The Commission has identified a range of barriers that would currently hamper the realisation of the Digital Single Market. These include low trust among consumers and businesses in cross-border e-commerce rules, cross-border parcel delivery services that are costly and of disputable quality, and unjustified geo-blocking of consumers by online sellers. To further facilitate this Digital Single Market, the Commission sees a need for an up-to-date European copyright framework, the removal of a VAT burden and other obstacles when selling cross-border, fit-for-purpose telecom rules, a reassessed media framework, a fit-for-purpose regulatory environment for platforms and intermediaries, and greater trust and security in digital services and the handling of personal data.

The growth potential of the digital economy will be ​realised by building a data economy, boosting competitiveness through interoperability and standardisation, and creating an inclusive e-society. The Commission posits that advancing the Digital Single Market calls for investment, the acknowledgement of its international dimension, and effective governance. A mix of legislative and other initiatives (some completely new, some recycling work already underway) will need to be undertaken.

Pillar 1 – Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe. This will be achieved through new legislative measures or through revising existing Directives, or following a competition authority’s inquiry into the e-commerce area relating to the online trade of goods and provision of services. Legislative measures will be proposed in 2015/2016 for simple and effective cross-border rules for consumers and businesses, parcel delivery, reform of the copyright system, and a reduction of the administrative burden arising from different VAT regimes.

Pillar 2 – Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish. This will be achieved through legislative work, such as reform of current telecom rules, and reviews of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the e-Privacy Directive. This will be aided by the setting up of a public-private partnership to increase cybersecurity, and through a comprehensive analysis of the role of "platforms." All these activities are to be undertaken in 2015 and 2016.

Pillar 3 – Maximising the growth potential of the European digital economy. This will be pursued in data ownership, free flow of data and European cloud services, a priority ICT Standards Plan to extend the Interoperability framework to public services, and an e-government action plan including the interconnection of businesses registers. The digitalization underway affects five business areas that are core to ESBG’s activities. These are payments and account management, savings, insurance, SME services, and lending. Of the 16 initiatives The Digital Single Market Strategy, the most critical to ESBG’s activities are platforms and intermediaries, trust and security, telecom rules, data ownership, free flow of data, cloud, copyright framework, business, and registers.