World Economy

EU Plans for More Unified Digital Market

EU Plans for More Unified Digital MarketEU Plans for More Unified Digital Market

The European Union has unveiled a strategy to unify the continent’s digital sector and help its technology companies compete with the dominant US firms. It will also open an antitrust inquiry into the e-commerce sector.

EU Commissioner Andrus Ansip said Wednesday that the EU is still far too fragmented into 28 national markets and needs more common rules to be competitive inside Europe and around the globe. Ansip said that new plans to unite the digital economy should help create jobs and growth, AP reported.

At the same time, the commission opened an inquiry into the sector to see where open competition is stifled, especially when it comes to cross-border online trade in sectors like electronics and clothing.

The digital single market is a unified and borderless regulatory framework for the internet across the continent. It aims to be the online equivalent of the existing EU single market.

It could mean that on-demand TV services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Sky Go are available to everyone, regardless of which EU country they’re in. Currently these services are often “geo-blocked”.

The commission says one of their objectives is that EU residents can enjoy “the same online content and services regardless of the EU country (they) are in”, Sky News said.


Parcel deliveries may also be made cheaper, letting internet users browse foreign online stores without paying significantly more to have goods shipped.

And expensive data roaming charges incurred abroad could be abolished.

The plans will be announced by Andrus Ansip, the EU digital single market commissioner and former prime minister of Estonia, at a midday conference in Brussels.

The European Commission estimates that the plans could create up to €340b ($382b) in additional growth.

The EC estimates that only 7% of small businesses sell across EU borders and that more choice could save consumers.

Eileen Burbidge, a partner at technology investment firm Passion Capital, told Sky News: “This definitely makes a tangible difference to consumers’ lives, because it’s going to make things much more efficient for the member states, which will transfer into better services and better products – because companies are investing in products, not in overseeing regulation.

“It will absolutely make consumers’ lives better.” The digital single market also aims to boost Europe’s home-grown technology businesses to compete better against the giant US internet firms like Facebook and Google.

Transferwise, a money transfer company founded four years ago, is a successful London start up, now worth $1b. But it found working across a fragmented European market challenging.

Nilan Peiris, vice president of growth at Transferwise, told Sky News: “Working across 26 countries across Europe, each with slightly different regulatory regimes, data privacy regimes, taxation regimes, definitely drove additional considerations as we were starting out.

“Any steps that the EU adopts to drive greater harmonization of regulations – taxation, data protections should enable star ups to scale faster across the European market.”