Framework for a single digital European market to be announced early 2017

European Commission building
Rules over sharing economy and geoblocking will filter from EU

European Commission is ramping up moves towards a digital single market across the EU over next six months, with policies expected to be announced by January 2017.

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Policies for a fully integrated, pan-European digital market that can rival the US and China will be outlined by the European Commission within 18 months.

Businesses that trade online within Europe must prepare for the shift to an open "digital single market" as part of Europe's initiative to catch up with the digital revolution of business and allow homegrown companies to scale without migrating to the US.

European commission cabinet member Jorgen Gren assured an audience of big names, including the Royal Mail, SAP, Google, Microsoft and Deloitte, that 60 billion (£42bn) worth of funding for these "movements" is in place, during a session at techUK today. 

Money generated by various regional European funds and the Juncker package will be used to build digital skills across the continent including 2 billion (£1.4bn) from the social fund and €18 billion (£12.6bn) for SME broadband and cloud adoption, to name a few initiatives.

"The digital single market is the EU's response to the digital revolution," Gren said. Citing Spotify as an example, he added, "we don't want companies to go to the US to scale."

Sharing economy

The sharing economy is a particularly difficult area for the commission to regulate, according to Gren. Platform companies include Uber, Airbnb and HouseTrip, all of which provide a means for citizens to share their own services.

"We don't sufficiently understand how the market works for platforms," Gren admitted.

Gren said that the commission hopes to improve transparency, copyright law and protection for existing businesses against the growing platform market, without stifling innovation amongst disruptors like Airbnb.

However, the main obstacles the single digital market reform aims to solve include different data flow regulations amongst EU member states, differing VAT, employment and copyright laws, plus getting a better deal for EU customers by limiting geoblocking, which Gren described as a loophole in which Europeans are "IP tracked to a bad deal."

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