Bringing down barriers to unlock online opportunities
The EU single market offers European citizens and businesses significant freedoms and rights — to travel, trade or operate across the EU. These freedoms in turn mean innovations have the widest growth and spread, and citizens have the widest choices and opportunities. But today an increasing number of products and services are going digital or online. Whether you’re watching films or bidding for government contracts, shopping or studying, chances are you are (or could be) using online tools to do so. Europeans often face barriers when using such online tools and services. This is even though... the EU has spent decades bringing down those barriers ‘offline’. Those barriers can range from non‑transparent and disproportionately high delivery charges, to deliberate ‘geo‑blocking’ of services to restrict them to one country or region, to a lack of internet access or digital skills and a patchwork of different rules across the EU. This is why we need to create a digital single market in Europe: it is one of the 10 priorities of the European Commission. A digital single market means fewer barriers, more opportunities. It means a seamless area where people and business can trade, innovate and interact legally, safely, securely, at an affordable cost, making their lives easier. It means business able to fully use new technologies; and small businesses in particular able to cross the EU with ‘just a click’. This could contribute €415 billion per year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The Commission presented its digital single market strategy in May 2015. It includes a set of 16 new laws and measures. The Commission will make precise proposals for all of them by the end of 2016. Half of them were presented before the summer of 2016. New rules will have to be decided by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The initiatives are grouped in three main pillars: ensuring access; ensuring the right environment for online innovation in Europe; and ensuring every European citizen, business and government can get the most value from the digital transformation. It is all about more modern and more common rules on subjects like consumer protection, copyright and online sales. This publication is part of a series that explains what the EU does in different policy areas, why the EU is involved and what the results are.