In 2015, the European Commission have proposed and adopted a Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe, according to which “the global economy is rapidly becoming digital”.
What are the pure economic and financial issues on which the Strategy is based on? How will it improve the everyday life of an average EU citizen and will the all stakeholders be involved into this process?
As stated earlier, the strategy (adopted in 2015), is based on three main pillars:
- Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe– this requires the rapid removal of key differences between the online and offline worlds to break down barriers to cross-border online activity.
- Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish– this requires high-speed, secure and trustworthy infrastructures and content services, supported by the right regulatory conditions for innovation, investment, fair competition and a level playing field.
- Maximising the growth potential of our European Digital Economy– this requires investment in ICT infrastructures and technologies such as Cloud computing and Big Data, and research and innovation to boost industrial competiveness as well as better public services, inclusiveness and skills. [Full integral text of the strategy is available HERE]
The first pillar (based on the better access for consumers) is devoted to achieve and set higher standards in providing better services for European citizens. The European Commission estimated that “EU consumers could save EUR 11.7 billion each year if they could choose from a full range of EU goods and services when shopping online”.
There are several tasks within this pillar, which could improve an economic aspect of the whole Strategy. Thos are: Affordable high-quality cross-border parcel delivery, preventing unjustified geo-blocking, better access to digital content, creating a modern, more European copyright framework, reducing VAT related burdens and obstacles when selling across borders, etc.
The second pillar is devoted to development of infrastructure which should serve as a precondition and pre-requisite for the further development and information inflow. It was very hard for the EU institutions to get along with this pillar for two main reasons. First, the EU complex legislative already emphasizes a “must” when it comes to the market fairness and fair economy. This legislative however was not translated into a cyber space. Also, not all EU member states have consensually agreed over how much it would cost, and how much would that move hit their domestic economies. New member states, for instance, have objections concerning unique and single digital market, or have requested to have some kind of opt-outs, since they were afraid of their short term exportations to the older EU member states.
The third pillar is economically and financially acceptable since it incorporates general approach in creating the investments and establishing new potentially major facility. The EU member states are devoted to improving the conditions and preserving all the factors which could be added value in digital single market among themselves. In this sense, the EU member states should provide all necessary knowledge and equipment in order to foster and boost the development, by executing the tasks such as development of technologies for big data transfer among the major financial systems.
The Strategy is being in force for more than 2 years. However, it showed some quite important obstacles. It turned out that EU citizens were not promptly prepared for its usage in practice. In survey which was conducted by the European Commission, one of the key findings was that 30% of online consumers were concerned that personal data may be misused and 25% that payment card details may be stolen. What also impeded an economic progress were consumer rights (fear of receiving wrong or damaged products 26%, difficulty in replacing or repairing a faulty product 22% and difficulty in returning a product they did not like and get reimbursement 22%).
It remains to be seen how digital single market will change usual people habit to shop online or do some online business more. So far, many things were achieved, but there are many endeavors yet to be done in near future.