A thriving European digital economy is one of the cornerstones for growth and employment in the EU. Providing estimated gains of 500 million euro in additional growth, the Digital Single Market is both one of the key projects of the EPP Group and the new Juncker Commission over the next five years.
Currently, significant barriers remain both for consumers and businesses alike when making digital transactions across the European Union. These obstacles reach from the virtual environment into the physical world and keep us from fully exploiting the benefits of a connected Digital Single Market.
Removing geographical obstacles for all European consumers
With consumer spending accounting for approximately 56% of EU GDP, consumers need to be enabled to benefit from the choices of a huge and diversified Digital Single Market. Yet, while they are at the very heart of the Digital Single Market, consumers are discriminated against based on their geographic location and subject to practices such as geo-blocking or discriminatory offers in car hire online.
So, a consumer in Romania might not be able to purchase certain goods online from across the EU because of denied parcel delivery, while a German consumer staying in London is blocked from accessing the content of his German broadcaster online and a Latvian consumer gets significantly higher car higher rates when booking from home compared to other places in the EU with the same company.
Unleashing business opportunities
To the same degree, businesses face significant regulatory and practical challenges when competing in the Digital Single Market. Operators in the field of electronic communications and IT services face very often asymmetric regulatory obligations, where at the same time bottlenecks in specific sectors of the market are not addressed and a level playing field between the operators is missing. Our aim in the EPP Group is therefore to enable fair competition, to provide space for innovative ideas, products and services without creating burdensome regulation.
Aside from digital markets, the EU’s traditional industry also has a lot to gain from the Digital Single Market. The digitalisation of industry in sectors such as manufacturing, the automotive industry, energy, transport but also public services and education can lead to significant efficiency gains, while creating new job opportunities.
This has to be reconciled with our high standards of data protection, as well as fulfil requirements on cyber security where Andreas Schwab MEP, EPP Group Coordinator in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, is currently leading the debate in the negotiations on the Network and Information Security Directive.
Investing in infrastructure to ensure access to a Digital Single Market across Europe
Finally, the underlying network and infrastructure for the Digital Single Market is a key pre-requisite for reaping the benefits of one digital market across the 28 Member States. The EPP Group wants to ensure substantial investment in infrastructure, in particular in new broadband. By incentivising private investment, we also ensure that consumers in remote areas can benefit from a wider choice of products and services.
With this in mind, the EPP Group is eagerly awaiting and looking forward to working on the Digital Single Market Strategy to be proposed by the European Commission, announced for the beginning of May 2015. Together with the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and one of the key responsible Commissioners, Günther Oettinger, we will work on the concrete legislative and non-legislative measures to complete the Digital Single Market in the coming months and years.