lunes, 7 de abril de 2014

Signs of the importance of the Digital Single Market for new EU legislative period

As the moment of the European  Parliament elections gets closer, more and more reports try to foresee which challenges will be need to be tackled by the new European legislative period. There is a general consensus that the Union is at a cross-road, harrassed by Eurosceptics from the inside and sieged  by the emerging economies from the ouside. Only a quick, visible and fair-for-all economic recovery would help to overcome this critical moment. And, like it or not, the European economic recovery is unlikely to take place unless we do an smart use of digital technologies.

We are just in the middle of an evolution. Europe is on the brink to be the "Knowledge Society" that takes its roots in eEurope Plan, but this aim should be quickly replaced by the "Knowing Society". There is a need to develop the social, operational and capital infrastructures that enable a continuous tracking, measuring and interpretation of  our environment in order to react to any expected or unexpected event in real-time. The need to convert Europe in "Knowing Society" is the cornerstone of the report "The Digital world in 2030", written by the EIF. The importance of this report is due to the fact that the board and founders of the EIF are MEPs. A similar exercise in 2009 ended up in the European Parlament proposals that shaped the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Becoming a "Knowing Society" is critical for Europe. It would be the first consequence of fully achieving the "Digital Single Market", and the efficiency gains of achieving it are valued in 260 € billion by the European Parliament. Therefore, ir should be no surprise of the growing interest of our MEPs on the digital issues since the approval of their resolution "Completing the Digital Single Market" on December 2012. And although the European Institutions have greatly advanced towards this objective in the last two years, specially after the backing of the European Council in Octuber 2013, we are still far from reaching it. 

The paper of the EIF mentioned above identified some of the stones we need to lay down to build this "Knowing Society". Of course it pointed the need to adquire the command in the triade of technologies that are driving now the digital economy (mobile, cloud and data) and the pre-requisite of a seamless connectivity in the continent. But it gives greater emphasis to non-technological measures as developing the ICT skills individually and as a society or embedding Internet of all the future legislation and the elimination of the paper-based constraints of the current legal framework.

But also recent reports and studies conducted officially by the European Parliament underlines the need to take seriously the digital issues in the next legislative period. "Streaming and Online Content Services" is one of this documents. Again, it speaks of the need of fostering the appearance of cloud infrastructures and ubiquitous connectivity. But it also proposes that the next Single Market Act (a kind of roadamap with the legislative priorities for EU) should have the focus on the Digital Single Market. 

However, the biggest sign of this interest can be found in other paper produced by the European Parliament: The controverted report on NSA cyber surveillance activities. As a way of conclusion, among its final recommendations, it calls to "Develop a European strategy for greater IT independence". This call is the best way to define what looks as one of the main objectives of the EU Institutions for the new legislative period.

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