EC Digital Single Market Strategy — Details Emerge

By Ignasi Guardans, Etienne Drouard, and Annette Mutschler-Siebert

As we recently reported and covered in a webinar, on May 6, the European Commission released the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy, with the declared objective to tear down the obstacles to doing business online. The DSM Strategy has been released together with a document intended to provide the “Analysis and Evidence supporting it.

The DSM Strategy will create potential major challenges as well as opportunities for almost every company doing business in the EU.

As we noted, it is made up of three main pillars:

(i) a better online access for consumers and businesses across Europe

(ii) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for advanced digital networks and innovative services; and

(iii) maximizing the growth potential of the digital economy.

Among the announced measures under each of the pillars, we can highlight the following (which are discussed in more detail in our analysis of the proposed measures included in the DSM Strategy):

Under Pillar I

A serious review of the legal framework of e-commerce in Europe, including:

  • the current contract models and common terms and conditions;
  • a specific target against unfair geo-blocking, and more generally, any geo-localization which may impose a discrimination among EU based customers;
  • a reform on IP law to facilitate multi- territorial licensing and promote cross-border access to online digital content;
  • a review of VAT in e-commerce, with a direct impact on sales from “third country” (non -EU) merchants.

Under Pillar II

A review of the whole telecom framework, including:

  • spectrum management, and including current universal service obligations;
  • a review of the general rules on audiovisual online services, extending its scope, and with an impact on advertising, protection of minors, etc.;
  • an enlargement of ISP providers obligations regarding illegal content;
  • a review of the role and framework of online platforms, to prevent abuse, ensure interoperability and reinforce freedom among customers;
  • a review of data protection legislation and cybersecurity.

Under Pillar III

An effort to push for:

  • interoperability and standardization;
  • a strong e-Government Action Plan 2016-2020, with a direct impact on cross border business recognition and on public procurement.

All of this is to be achieved by various policy and regulatory proposals, including some that are already in the pipeline, and others that will have to be developed.  Please see the overview we prepared of the EU legislative or regulatory acts which are or may be affected by DSM strategy.


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