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European Commission announces a Digital Single Market by 2016

13 May 2015. Published by Paul Joseph, Partner

On 6 May 2015, the European Commission released its Digital Single Market Strategy (DSMS) for Europe.

What does the Commission want to achieve?

The aim is to achieve a Digital Single Market where the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured under fair competition conditions with a high level of consumer (and personal data) protection.

According to the Commission, "the DSMS will be built on three pillars:

1. Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe

2. Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish

3. Maximising the growth potential of our European Digital Economy"

Expanding the three pillars

These three pillars are the bases of the Commission's plans to:

  • harmonise contract and copyright law between member states to allow better online activity;
  • introduce trusted cross border e-commerce rules;
  • end "unjustified" geo-blocking;
  • further harmonise EU copyright law including portability of content, cross border access to content, harmonised exceptions, modernising the enforcement regime;
  • promote a more joined up approach to cyber-security;
  • review the ePrivacy Directive with a focus on ensuring a high level of protection for data subjects and a level playing field for all market players; and
  • ensure that "Big Data" can flow across borders in the EU.  The Commission will propose a "free flow of data" initiative that tackles restrictions on the free movement of data other than for data protection purposes.

What can we expect to actually happen?

According to the paper, the team tasked with implementing the DSMS will deliver its actions before the end of 2016. In reality however, this paper should be seen a statement of political intent rather that a blueprint for wholesale changes of legislation.  It gives a clear indication of the areas in which the Commission will be active – but what the results of that activity will be is difficult to predict.

The full communication from the Commission can be found here