Tuesday 12 December 2017
This year some important steps have been accomplished with the aim of completing the EU Digital Single Market. Last but not least, at the end of November the COREPER confirmed an agreement reached by the Estonian Presidency and the European Parliament to end unjustified geo-blocking in the EU.
This is just the most recent action undertook by the EU Institutions, on the initiative of the European Commission, to complete the EU Digital Single Market. The Digital Single Market encompasses all the policies aimed at making the Single Market fit for the digital age and thus related to digital marketing, E-commerce and telecommunication. Similarly to what was done in the 90’ to complete the EU Single Market, which removed internal borders and regulatory obstacles to the free movement of people, goods and services, the aim is now to integrate the digital economies of the 28 Member States to remove barriers to the use of online tools across the EU.
The Digital Single Market Strategy was adopted in 2015 and has been one of the top priorities of the Juncker Commission since then. However, out of the 24 legislative proposals put forward by the Commission, only 6 have already been adopted.
“The Commission has lived up to its promise and presented all main initiatives for building a Digital Single Market. Now, the European Parliament and Member States need to adopt these proposals as soon as possible, for new jobs, business and innovation to take off across Europe.”
Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission
In its work programme for 2017, the Commission promised to collaborate closely with the other Institutions to advance some of the most crucial proposals of the strategy, notably on roaming charges, digital contracts and geo-blocking.
The end of roaming charges as of July 2017 has been one of the biggest successes of the Juncker Commission and one of the policies with the most tangible impact on EU citizens. The first actions in this regard date back from 2007, and the Commission has been working since then to reduce and then cancel roaming charges within the EU. Once the new rules entered into force last summer, it was established that EU citizens would pay domestic prices for roaming while travelling in other EU countries. The positive impact of this policy has also been assessed by a flash Eurobarometer survey conducted at the end of August 2017 that confirmed its popularity among EU citizens.
The European Commission put forward two proposals, one on contract rules on the supply of digital content and one on contract rules on the online sale of goods, to make sure that EU consumers’ rights are protected in a harmonized way when purchasing digital products within the EU. Clear and uniform rules are needed also to support the development of the E-commerce sector and to build consumers trust. Moreover, the fact that the rules for cross-border sales are different among EU countries hinders the internal market and prevents businesses to expand their activities to other countries. Following several months of negotiations with the co-legislators, the Commission adopted an amendment to its proposal to extend the scope of one of the proposed Directives, the one on online and other distance sales of goods, to be also applicable to the offline sales of goods last October. The two proposals still need to be adopted by the Council and by the European Parliament.
Another proposal aiming at removing the existing obstacles to online sales in the EU, is the one put forward by the Commission in 2015 to end unjustified geo-blocking. EU consumers often face geo-blocking, which can be defined as a protection measure that blocks the user’s internet access based upon its geographical location, when one tries to purchase online digital content or goods from other EU countries. As mentioned above, geo-blocking was declared a legislative priority for 2017, and at the end of November the co-legislators finally reached a provisional agreement on a Regulation addressing geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market. The Regulation will enter into force following the formal adoption by the Council and the Parliament and after nine months from publication on the Official Journal to give to businesses time to adapt to the new regime.
The finalisation of the Digital Single Market will remain a top political priority also during next year. In particular, the Commission would like to see a swift adoption of the pending proposals such as the digital contract directives. Moreover, new proposals to ensure fairness in platform-to-business relations and to protect the EU from cyber-attacks will be launched and more efforts will be made to advance the integration of high-speed fixed and mobile networks (5G).
 Key messages of President Juncker to Heads of State or Government in Tallinn on the State of Play of the Digital Single Market:
 Digital Single Market: Commission calls for swift adoption of key proposals and maps out challenges ahead:
 First summer without roaming charges: Europeans see benefits of the new rules
 Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on addressing geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC
 European Commission Work Programme 2018 :
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