Let’s start with the Digital Single Market.
The Single Market that we created in 1992 remains one of Europe’s greatest
assets, and it holds an even greater potential in the digital area.
However, at the moment blockages and barriers exist in the digital world. An
example of this is geo-blocking, which frustrates millions of consumers across
Europe every day.
As the digital transformation accelerates, it brings immense opportunities for
innovation, growth and jobs. ICT has already made a major contribution to economic growth. Between 2001 and 2011, digitalisation accounted for 30% of GDP growth in the EU. And European early success stories abound, like Skype, Snapchat and Spotify.
The question we need to ask is whether we provide the right environment in
Europe today for our promising start-ups and web entrepreneurs to grow and
prosper? Do they have sufficient access to finance? Do they have the human
resources available to them to innovate? Do we give them space to focus on their
core businesses or are they tied down with the regulatory burden of having to adapt to 28 different legal regimes for consumer protection and data protection and for copyright and VAT?
We have to realise that the key variable for the digital economy is scale. The
larger the market in which companies operate, the stronger the growth impulse.
The digital economy is also crucially about speed and first mover advantages;
markets punish those who arrive too late.
There are some signs that European companies are currently falling behind their
global competitors. In certain segments of the market—like for Internet search,
communications/social media or e-Commerce platforms—non-European players
are driving innovation. Among the global top ten ICT firms, only 1 is European.
In particular, there is a sense in which Europe’s creative industry and rich media
landscape are hampered in the current fragmented market situation.
The work to complete the Digital Single Market is all about positioning Europe
for the future, to enable European companies to exploit a home market of more than 500 million consumers, to innovate and experiment and to scale up and grow globally.
It is about creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in thriving new areas like data
analytics, content and service applications and maximising the growth potential of the sharing economy.
We will achieve this aim by focusing on a small number of key interdependent
actions that can only be taken at EU level. The 16 actions in our new strategy have been chosen to have maximum impact—to reduce regulatory fragmentation and substantially improve the cross-border flow of goods and services in the digital age.
If we get the work done and establish a truly integrated Digital Single Market,
we can create up to €340 billion in additional growth, hundreds of thousands of
new jobs and a vibrant knowledge-based society in the EU.