miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2015

The transition of job marketplace

The gates of the dam are now widely opened. ICTs have accelerated the commoditization and mobility of a growing different kinds of jobs. At the same time, the digital technologies underpinned by free trade have created real global value chains for the production of goods and services in highly deterritorialized manner. The outcome of the combination of both trends is a radical change in the nature and organisation of labour, where ancient jobs are decomposed in a long chain of discrete tasks. As a result, a new job marketplace based on an infinite pool of low-skilled workers has been created. Furthermore, this infinite pool of workers face a growing competition of robots that would produce the same good or service at a lower price.

Governments should be worried about this change of the job marketplace. The cornerstone of the welfare state has been a job marketplace based on an employee-employer relationship, which now it is being substituted by a world of self-employment. Furthermore, it looks the job marketplace would be smaller due to the disappearance of posts due to automatisation.

Although digital technologies have created the problem of the jibarization of the former job marketplace, they could be also the key for the solution. While enabling more efficient value chains, ICTs are boosting  the creation of new goods and services spurred by innovation. A new set of tools should be included in policy-making drawer in order to overcome this apparent contradiction. 

At least, the following ideas should be considered:
  1. Accelerating the emergence of new production activities. A required step in this direction is to foster the digital transformation of existing firms and the promotion of digital entrepreneurship. Without the production of new goods and services, there will not be new jobs to be filled.
  2. Facilitating the transition of workers of declining activities. The digital transformation could bring a whole set of new tasks to be performed. However, it  would not be possible to develop them unless an important number of workers are re-trained. It will be needed to pool resources both from public and private sector to face this capacity building challenge.
  3. Renewing the education system. There is a lack of education on digital skills in schools and universities. Beyond the creation of a new and bigger generation of ICT specialists, there is a need to provide any future employee with a basic set of digital skills. This implies a complete reorientation of university degrees to take advantage of all the digital era facilities.
  4. Changing the culture of the whole society. A new job marketplace required a new culture of labour. A new kind of labour relationships, where there will be a growing number of self-employees and self-management activities, will demand new competences to avoid stress and strike the right balance between personal and working life
The nature of labor is at a crossroad for the first time in many generations. The rebuild of the job market place before it finally crashes should be one of the main priorities of a generation of politicians and government officials.

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

#OTT #Audiovisual Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (21/12/2015)

Over the Top Players (OTTs)

The report explores current/emerging business models for OTT services (including Voice over IP, instant messaging services, streaming video and music services); identify costs and barriers to European online service development including OTT; describe the regulatory environment for online services in Europe, contrasting it with the environment for traditional telecom/media services, as well as the environment in some of Europe’s major trading partners; and make recommendations to achieve a DSM.

A study on Audiovisual Media Services - Review of Regulatory Bodies Independence

The study provides an updated analysis of the institutional, legal and regulatory framework governing the regulatory bodies competent for audiovisual media services in EU Member States and candidate countries. It identifies differences and common traces of the different national legal systems governing regulatory authorities. It also comprises the analysis of the implementation of the said framework in practice and its effectiveness.

miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

#Privacy in EU : the growing legal uncertainty

Some weeks have passed since the ECJ published its decision on the case Max Schrems vs Irish Data Commissioner. Although it is still soon to feel the full impact of the decision on the EU and US economies, we begin to see some of the dark consequences.   

The invalidation of the Safe Harbor agreement has open the floodgates of legal uncertainty of the data flows between EU and US. The uncertainty is extended beyond the data transfers done under the Safe Harbor agreement, other mechanisms as the model contract clauses or the binding corporate rules are also stained by the doubt. It is not an overstatement to affirm that we are living in a period of quarantine over US-EU data flows.

After the publication by the Article 29 Working Party of its guidances for the interpretation of the ECJ ruling, everybody expects a period of grace until January 31th of 2016. Nevertheless, the German Data Protection Watchdogs announced that they would not allow any data transfers to the US on the basis of binding corporate rules or data transfer contracts. Or what is the same, only the explicit consent remains as a valid mechanism for the authorisation of data transfers. However, in spite of all the anger from the industry the decision of the German Data Protection Watchdogs looks quite difficult to enforce.

But the ECJ decision has actually opened the doors for a further balkanization of the EU digital market. The ECJ has ruled that the all the national privacy watchdogs has the obligation to investigate a possible unlawful behaviour regarding the data protection rules. This decision has established an scenario where more than one Data Protection Regulator could investigate the same case. The first and expected consequence has been the investigation of the Facebook case by the Austrian Data Protection Regulator, at the same tome the case is under investigation in Ireland. The chances of contradictory decisions in such a scenario are bigger than previously to the ECJ ruling.

On its side, the European Commission (EC) has published its own guidances for the interpretation of the ECJ ruling. The EC insists in the validity of the other forms of permissions for data transfer to the US (BCR, Contractual Templates and Derogations). However, the EC underlines that this is the situation "currently" and it is far from offer complete legal certainty.  Furthermore, although the EC express its will to conclude the agreement before the end of January 2016, it looks that the US have few intentions to make new concessions and changes on its surveillance methods of digital servicesIt seems that a huge divide on what guarantees are needed to be included in the future agreement still exists between US and the UE.

In spite of the guidances given by the EC, it looks the companies prefer more legally certain options. Both Amazon and Microsoft have preferred to establish more data centers in Europe in order to avoid data transfers to the US.

So all the worst expectations after the ECJ ruling are taking shape. A possible invalidation of all the data transfers between US and EU, different privacy regulators investigating the same case and rules difficult (if not impossible) to be enforced. We need sooner than later to clarify the privacy scenario in the EU and its connection with the rest of the world. Not finding a new agreement is not a solution. Neither it is time of a blaming game about which side has been responsible of no enforcing Safe Harbour.

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2015

"Los besos en el pan" - Almudena Grandes

Los besos en el panLos besos en el pan by Almudena Grandes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aún están frescas en nuestras mentes las imágenes de la gran recesión, el reguero de dolor que ha sembrado en nuestra sociedad. Están frescas porque las heridas siguen abiertas, el relato aún inconcluso. Almudena Grandes siembra las páginas de su último libro de lo que ha sido nuestra cotidianidad más reciente, de nuestros amigos en paro, de esos familiares desahuciados, de los hijos que hemos visto marchar al exilio económico. También nos recuerda los recortes, los centros de salud que se cerraron, los niños cercanos cuyo único alimento lo reciben en el horario lectivo. En la sombra, asoman de tanto en tanto quienes se enriquecieron, y también las secuelas de la desesperación en la forma de los captados para intolerancias de distinto signo. Pero el resplandor de la solidaridad nos cura del dolor, las mareas de todos los colores nos impulsan hacia una playa que se avista cercana.

Relatos deslabazados, zarpazos de realidad que entrelazan los personajes recordándonos que somos tan débil como el eslabón más débil, que somos tan fuertes como queramos serlo juntos. Contra mucho siempre es arriesgado, relatar lo reciente nos reduce el paisaje, las novelas corales necesitan de más reposo. Quedará como una obra literaria menor de Almudena Grandes, pero como la más oportuna. Es el momento, de leerla rápido, de recordar, de no olvidar.

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miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2015

"Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age" - by Ursula Huws

Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of AgeLabor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age by Ursula Huws
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes, I decide to read books without any additional reason that a catchy word in the title. This book is one of those cases. I discovered it by chance reading an article about the gig economy. I do not remember the article, but the usage of the term "Cybertariat" immediately captured my curiosity. It is difficult to imagine a better word to define the emerging class of digital workers. As you can imagine, I felt an imminent urgency to read the book that was mentioned in the footnote as the first book where the term appeared (according with the version of the author of the article, of course). That book was "Labor in the global digital economy. The Cybertariat comes of age".

The books has an excellent title, but also quite valuable contents. It is composed of seven essays that explores the impact of the introduction of technology on the labour relationships. One appealing thing of the book style is that the approach of the analysis is mainly based on the classical definitions of labour, the creation of value, surplus, commoditization and other elements that can be found in the books of Marx, Ricardo, Adam Smith and other XIX century economists.

Although all the chapters deserve a reading, I would like to recommend particularly the first essay and the essay before the last. Both of them are about different topics so can give you an idea of the multifaceting of the book. The article called "What will we do?" explores the reasons why ICTs provoke a continuous pressure towards the dissapearance of jobs characterised by stability and the demand of high skils. The essay "Crisis as a capitalist opportunity" describes why ICTs serve as a support for the commoditisation and privatisation of Public Services.

Maybe you have alredy reached the conclusion that the book is a luddite pamphlet. If that is the case you would be in an error. The book is quite neutral and descriptive about what is happening and even put forward in some essays some solutions for a more social-friendly adoption of ICT in the working environment. It doesn´t mean that the book does not reflects a concrete ideology. However, whatever are your political ideas, this is a book you should read if you are interested in digital economy policy making.

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lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2015

#IoT #Indusrtry #SmartHomes #Security Somewhere in #Digital Europe .... (7/12/2015)

Security and Resilience of Smart Home Environments

This study published by ENISA aims at securing Smart Home Environments from cyber threats by highlighting good practices that apply to every step of a product lifecycle: its development, its integration in Smart Home Environments, and its usage and maintenance until end-of-life. The study also highlights the applicability of the security measures to different types of devices. The good practices apply to manufacturers, vendors, solution providers for hardware and software, and developers. It can be used to assess their current security level, and evaluate the implementation of new security measures. European citizens, standardisation bodies, researchers and policy makers could also find an interest in this study.

Digitising European Industry - Synthesis of Stakeholder Inputs

This report and presentation is a synthesis of the results of European Commission consultation of how to boost the digitalisation of European Industry. The EC asked leaders of national initiatives and business leaders with the objective to identify specific actions to implement the European strategy for digitising industry.

miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2015

2016: Year zero for #digital Europe

2015 has been a busy year in Europe regarding digital policy making. Several key communications have been presented by the European Commission containing (sometimes) overlapping roadmaps of future legislative and non-legislative proposals. The result will be a completely overhaul of the legal framework for digital networks and services in Europe, hopefully with a dramatic reduction of the market fragmentation.

Although the key document for establishing the foundations of digital Europe is the communication “A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe”, the visión would be partial without consulting at least two other pieces produced by the Brussels policy-making factory. Firstly, the strategy for updating the European trade policy, “Trade for all: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy". Secondly, the set of actions planned to achieve a deeper and fairer Single Market, “Upgrading the Single Market: More opportunities for people and business”. Both documents are transversal policy-making papers, the fact that both of them have a strong digital flavour reflects the fact that digitalisation is over flooding the whole economic activity. This is particularly true in the second document: Half of the measures proposed for the Commission to complete the Single Market are oriented to develop the digital economy (5 of 11) and the majority of them (4 of 5) are nothing more that a different development of actions already proposed in "A strategy for a Digital Single Market for Europe".

A policy without a development is only a letter of intentions. Fortunately, it looks the European Commission will begin to present its proposals in 2016. The work program for 2016, "No time for business as usual" contains the intention to present all the legislative proposals relevant for the completion of the Digital Single Market before the end of 2016. Starting with the presentation of the new approach to copyright for the digital era, it looks that we will see next year the begin of the negotiations of several key legislative initiatives between the European Institutions. Furthermore, besides the review of the telecom and audiovisual frameworks, the development of a regulation for free data flows and a VAT Action Plan, the European Commission aims to provide guidance for development of the collaborative economy or hopes to conclude the negotiations of the TTIP with the USA. Perhaps, the only piece we miss is an intention to develop a new Safe Harbor agreement.

2016 is the time for great ambitions. The obscure bureaucracy mechanisms and the interests of the Member States will water down the initial proposals. Some of the ideas will be justly discarded as mere grabbing-power trials from the European Commission. The powerful lobbies will play its role and obtain some business advantages for their represented. But in the end, hopefully, it will be some advances towards a more digitised Europe. We badly need it to compete in the digital era.

lunes, 30 de noviembre de 2015

#Copyright #TTIP Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (30/11/2015)

Policy Options for Improving the Functioning and Efficiency of the Digital Single Market in the Field of Copyright

This study explores the existing policy problems and the possible options for reforming the EU copyright framework as provided by EU Directive 29/2001 on Copyright in the Information Society (InfoSoc Directive) and related legislation, with a specific focus on the need to strengthen the Internal Market for creative content.

The Implementation, Application and Effects of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Information Society

This study provides an ex-post evaluation of the EU copyright framework as provided by EU Directive 29/2001 on Copyright in the Information Society (InfoSoc Directive) and related legislation, focusing on four key criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and relevance. The evaluation finds that the EU copyright framework scores poorly on all four accounts.

Uncovering the Hidden Value of Digital Trade

A paper published by The Lisbon Council compiling as an introduction for an event on digital trade and the TTIP negotiations. It contains interesting figures of the economic value of digital trade between US and EU. 

miércoles, 25 de noviembre de 2015

#Cybersecurity #Privacy Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (25/11/2015)

Cybersecurity in the European Union and Beyond: Exploring the Threats and Policy Responses

Upon request of the LIBE committee, RAND Europe conducted this study to develop a better understanding about the main cybersecurity threats, the existing cybersecurity capabilities in the European Union and the United States, the challenges and areas of improvement in the area of transnational cooperation as well as the effectiveness of the EU response.

The law enforcement challenges of cybercrime: are we really playing catch-up?

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. With a number of high-profile criminal cases, such as ‘Silk Road’, cybercrime has been very much in the spotlight in recent years, both in Europe and elsewhere. While this study shows that cybercrime poses significant challenges for law enforcement, it also argues that the key cybercrime concern for law enforcement is legal rather than technical and technological. The study further underlines that the European Parliament is largely excluded from policy development in the field of cybercrime, impeding public scrutiny and accountability.

The data protection regime in China

This in-depth analysis was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. One cannot talk of a proper data protection regime in China, at least not as it is perceived in the EU. The international data protection fundamentals that may be derived from all relevant regulatory instruments in force today, namely the personal data processing principles and the individual rights to information, access and rectification, are not unequivocally granted under Chinese law. This analysis provides a perspective of privacy Chinese laws and ends up with list of realistic policy recommendations that has been drawn up in order to establish whether China’s recent data protection effort is part of a persistent, yet concise, policy

lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2015

Taxes, ethics and inequaility in the #digital world

One of the many fronts of the digital dispute between UE and US is the taxing issue. To cut a long story short, the US digital giants are accused of not not paying its fair share of taxes according with their economic importance. Although it has been one of the "well-known secrets", the tax engineering by multinationals came to the front page of papers and news channel with the Luxleaks, which uncovered tax rulings between Luxembourg Government and companies worldwide aiming at reducing tax payments. Among the companies was some of the GAFA club.

After some debates in the European Parliament, decided in february 2015 to set a special committee on tax rulings. The mission of the committee (TAXE) is to look  "tax rulings and other measures similar in nature and effect" going back to 1 January 1991 and make recommendations for the future. The initial mandate of the committee is for six months. However, it looks that the mandate will be extended for some more time

Although tax engineering practices are not an exclusive practice of the GAFA, their economic importance have made them one of the focus of the investigation. This fact has been reflected in the two-days session maintained by TAXE this week. 3 of the 13 multinational companies (MNC) invited to the session are members of the GAFA club. The minutes and news on the debate is a outstanding reflection of the differences and sometimes blurry frontier between legality and ethics in modern taxation.

It is important to remember, and the MNCs underlined it many times during the session that they have just follow the rules and, as the Luxleak revealed, with some governments as special advisors. However, perhaps not all the MNCs leaders are in peace of mind when the appearance on the committee has been under the threat to to revoke the accreditation of the lobbyists representing these companies in Brussels. Among the highlights of the session that reveals a lax ethic is the explicit recognition that some of their practices although "they do not erase any tax liability, it defers US tax" and that has any impact on the amount of taxes paid in the EU. Another interesting moment was when one MEP asked another company "why are you operating in the UK when according to your accounts you create no value there?”. Obviously, there is not a satisfactory answer to why they operate in countries where they lost money according with their tax declaration.

The OECD estimate conservatively the revenue losses due to tax engineering at USD 100-240 billion annually. That amount of money means a huge direct transfer from public welfare to private welfare, and therefore another (great) brick in the wall of inequality. One of the OECD reports of the BEPS project shows that this is not a problem of digital companies but of the digital world. Unethical tax practices have existed since the dawn of tax systems, but it looks it could be the common rule in the digital world. Either we force the application of ethical standards in tax practices or inequality will be the common rule in the XXI century.

miércoles, 18 de noviembre de 2015

How to cut the Gordian knot of the US-EU #digital dispute

Even before the ECJ decision on the Safe Harbour agreement, there was a growing anger in the US about the the EU digital policy. The pinnacle of this annoyance so far has been the Obama's interview for Re/Code. The complete interview is worthy to be watch, but one of its more interesting moments is when the US President accused the EU of developing a protectionist digital policy. Few days after the interview, VP Ansip marked the charge as not based on evidences.

The central point of the digital quarrel between US and EU are the so-called Internet Platforms and its regulation. The field of the dispute is hard to be defined as there is not a widely accepted definition for an Internet Platform. The services that are included under the term covers from the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) to Netflix without leaving aside the shared economy applications (Uber, Airbnb, ...). The complexity of the definition of the term and the related issues can be appreciated in the consultation on internet platforms published by the European Commission, which includes questions on cloud, data handling, shared economy and many more topics.

As times goes by, perhaps a growing consensus will appear: It does not exist such an animal as an Internet Platform. As the online and offline world gets more intermixed this consensus looks as the only way ahead. The acceptance of this fact would have implications on both sides of the Atlantic. The EU and its Member states would need to leave aside the idea of having an specific regulation on Internet Platforms. While the US would need to accept the extension to the digital arena of the regulations that are usual in the offline world.

From the above perspective, we should expect in the forthcoming years more regulations as the Networks and Information Security Directive now under debate in the European Institutions. It looks quite logical that the Internet firms have to comply with the same cybersecurity obligations that energy, telecom, finances or transport companies. An equal rationale could be applied within other regulation areas such as consumer protection or competition rules. 

As the last year Nobel Prize states, we need to regulate the Internet Platforms but the question is how to do it. The recognition of the first part of this statement by the US is key to ease the relationship between US and EU. A non-holistic answer to the second question by the EU should be the other side of the equation. A win-win solution to the online platforms'  Gordian knot.

lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2015

#Telco Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (16/11/2015)

Fixed broadband prices per country

This study presents a very comprehensive assessment of retail fixed broadband access prices for a variety of broadband offerings including standalone and bundled services for eight speed categories.

Broadband coverage per country

This study monitors the progress on the broadband coverage objectives of the Digital Agenda (basic broadband access for all by 2013 and high speed broadband access with at least 30 Mbps download speed for all by 2020), i.e. the household coverage of different fixed and wireless broadband technologies with a special focus on Next Generation Access technologies

Study on broadband coverage in Europe

This study monitors the progress on the broadband coverage objectives of the Digital Agenda (basic broadband access for all by 2013 and high speed broadband access with at least 30 Mbps download speed for all by 2020), i.e. the household coverage of different fixed and wireless broadband technologies with a special focus on Next Generation Access technologies.

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2015

Is the shared economy menacing the existance of governments?

The digital era waits for no one. However, sometimes it looks that governments thinks otherwise and they seems that they see themselves as capable to dictate the rhythm of the digital transformation of the society. As digital disruptions appear more frequently, the society are growingly embracing digital technologies as a more efficient and effective manner of doing things. On its side, the digital transformation of governments looks limited to the facade. Few things more that the digitalisation of the  point of contact through eGovernment services have been changed. Perhaps, the "lack of pressure to digital transformation" feeling in governments is a consequence of their privilege situation in the society organisation, without the possibility of being displaced by a competitor smarter in the usage of digital means (e.g. Blockbuster vs Netflix).

The situation could have changed with the emerge of the shared economy. Perhaps, there will not be a sole competitor capable to substitute completely the governments, but there will be thousands of them that could grab different government activities to develop in a more efficient manner. That is the case with Uber. A good question to make is "Why didn't governments invent Uber?". There are few doubts that the uber concept could have driven a more efficient transport in urban areas if it would have been adequately deployed by local governments. Nevertheless, the fear of failure and the pressure of actors with vested privileges have worked (and works) as a brake for this kind of innovations. 

Another missed opportunity is related with the usage of technologies for an efficient management of the job market. All started with platforms as Linkedin for sharing CVs between workers and employers, but other services like Mechanical Turk goes a step beyond and will be refined with the creation of a Uber for jobs. Again, the question is why this approach has not been taken before by government employment services. It is time for governments to discover the job-saving side from technology.

The digital pace of changes should be embraced by governments. Otherwise, as in the case described above, they risk to be displaced little by little from different spaces of the organisation of the society. "They will not succeed unless they become more open to creative destruction, allowing not only tools and procedures, but also mindsets, to be revamped and upgraded." 

lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2015

"The Girl in the Spider´s Web" - David Lagercrantz

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4)The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I was a bit sceptical when I started reading the book, I should recognise that D.Langercrantz has done an excellent work with his continuation of the Millenium saga. First of all, he has done a superb imitation of Stieg Larsson style. Secondly, he has made a plausible continuation of the story of the Salander family. Last but not least, he has found an extraordinary background for the novel connected with the revelations of the Snowden case.

The centre of the plot is the connection between state surveillance and industrial espionage in the digital era. This link, that is suspected by the majority of us, has a disastrous consequence which is the existence of communication alleys between the sewers of the state and the organised crime. The connection has existed always but the digital transformation of the society has reinforced it and make it more invisible. After finishing the book you will feel more worry about the issue than before.

Among the things I have liked more in the book is the explanation for the pseudonym "Wasp" used by Salander. I'm not going to spoil this part of the book but it is going to be loved by a majority of the people involved with the computer world and born in the 60´s. Langercratz has been imaginative and realistic at the same time in this extreme.

In spite of having enjoyed the book, I really don't know if i will read another sequel of the saga. There is a clear possibility for it but i think the characters should be complemented with new features and new companions in order to maintain the tension and the thrill.

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#Privacy #OpenInnovaion #Jobs Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (9/11/2015)

A comparison between US and EU data protection legislation for law enforcement purposes

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. The study compares US and the EU legal frameworks on data protection in the field of law enforcement.

Open Innovation in Industry, Including 3D Printing

New technologies and innovation concepts are important pathways for growth and competitiveness. Open innovation can strengthen innovation ecosystems. 3D printing has the potential to significantly impact the way production and innovation takes place. It is still hard to predict where and how exactly 3D printing will transform our economy and society. This study, provided by Policy Department A at the request of the ITRE committee, describes the mutual reinforcement of open innovation and additive manufacturing and addresses recommendations for different policy levels.

Digital workers by design? 

A case study from the gig eonomy. The authors compare how profitable are crowdworking in Italy and Serbia. 

miércoles, 4 de noviembre de 2015

The #Digital #TTIP : the unworkable but compulsory agreement

The European Union is currently involved in the completion of the Digital Single Market. Overcoming the barriers to build up the digital version of the Single Market through the consolidation of the 28 national digital markets is a must in a global economy underpinned on information technology. To add some complexity to the Digital Single Market project, it should be developed at the same time that the projects that aim to connect the Digital Single Market with the digital global economy. US is at the same time main trade partner of the EU and the first producer of digital products and services, so it is crystal clear the prioritisation of linking the Digital Single Market with the US digital market. Therefore, the TTIP presents apparently a unique opportunity to set up the link between EU and US digital markets

Besides the complexity of building at the same time the Digital Single Market,  it should be asked the feasibility of developing the digital chapter of the TTIP. This is the aim of the more comprehensive analysis about the digital chapter of the TTIP that  I have read so far, "Telecommunications and Internet Services: The digital side of the TTIP". The report summarises the different positions of the US and EU in the most controversial digital issues: Net neutrality, competition policy applied to digital services, standardisation of digital products and personal data protection.

The author defends that while it could be possible an agreement on digital products, it could be more difficult an agreement on digital services. Without spoiling the deserved reading of the report, we can resume the differences in the following points:

  • Net neutrality: a more flexible approach in Europe towards the existence of prioritisation mechanisms in order to permit specialised services over the Internet infrastructure.
  • Competition policy: a more interventionist approach in Europe to solve the competition cases raised up by mergers and acquisitions and the existence of single-firm market.
  • Digital Platforms: a growing trend in Europe to abandon the "mere conduit" approach in the dealing with digital platforms that it is seen in US as a protectionist attitude.
  • Personal data protection: a European vision of personal data protection as a civil right while the US vision is closer to see personal data protection as a consumer right. 
In another interesting paper published by the CEPS, they analysed the possible consequences of the TTIP for consumer protection framework. As ICT and digital product and services are a growing part of our daily life as consumers, the document includes a small specific study of the impact on the protection of the digital consumer. While we can expect some benefits regarding the protection of the consumer of digital products (e.g. reduction of manufacturing costs, better interoperability of products, ...), it is not the shame story regarding digital services. The differences on the approach towards personal data protection on both sides of the Atlantic poses challenges to the free flow of data which is the cornerstone of digital trade.

The question is if all these differences make impossible an agreement and which would the consequences of not reaching an agreement on the digital side of the TTIP. Perhaps, the best way to answer both questions is starting by the second one. With a growing Asian digital market which have its size limits still so far away to be reached and beyond the size of the sum EU and US markets, not reaching an agreement on the digital chapter of TTIP may mean the future irrelevance of the separate EU and US digital markets. And, therefore, the answer to the first question is also obvious: the agreement on the digital side of the TTIP is a question of survival for US and EU digital market, not a question of feasibility. Perhaps, this is the reason why there are some dramatic calls for an agreement on the digital TTIP

lunes, 2 de noviembre de 2015

#Privacy #Telco #BigData Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (2/11/2015)

Big Data and smart devices and their impact on privacy

The numerous debates triggered by the increased collection and processing of personal data for various – and often unaccountable - purposes are particularly vivid at the EU level. This Study argues that the promotion of a data-driven economy should not underestimate the challenges raised for privacy and personal data protection and that strengthening the rights of digital citizens should be the main focus of the current debates around the GDPR.

Why is Europe lagging on next generation access networks?

Fibre-based next generation access (NGA) roll-out across the European Union is one of the goals of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda strategy, however, there remains considerable uncertainty about how the roll-out goal can best be achieved. This Bruegel report explores the causes for this lag.

Data-Driven Innovation

A new OECD report on data-driven innovation finds that countries could be getting much more out of data analytics in terms of economic and social gains if governments did more to encourage investment in “Big Data” and promote data sharing and reuse

miércoles, 28 de octubre de 2015

En Cinco Dias, "Casablanca es #PuertoSeguro "

(Publicado previamente en "Cinco Dias")

El 6 de octubre, el Tribunal de Justicia Europeo (TJE) publicó su decisión sobre el caso C-352/14. Entre sus conclusiones dentro de la decisión prejudicial relativa al procedimiento de Max Schrems contra el Comisionado de Protección de Datos de Irlanda, estaba la declaración como no válida de la Decisión 2000/520, el llamado Acuerdo de Puerto Seguro entre Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea. Para muchos expertos y activistas de los derechos de los ciudadanos, la decisión del TJE no ha sido una sorpresa. Aún más, se ha comparado la reacción de sorpresa con la decisión del Tribunal de muchos funcionarios europeos y estadounidenses con esa escena memorable de "Casablanca", cuando el capitán Renault expresa su conmoción cuando le comunican la existencia de juegos de azar en el Café de Rick.

El Acuerdo de Puerto Seguro fue diseñado como puente imaginativo entre las diferentes culturas al respecto del manejo de los datos personales en ambos lados del Atlántico. En el lado europeo, es considerado como una cuestión relacionada con los derechos ciudadanos. En el lado estadounidense, el manejo de datos personales forma parte de las relaciones comerciales y se relaciona con los derechos del consumidor. La auto-certificación del cumplimiento de las garantías europeas de protección de datos por las empresas americanas pareció la solución ideal. El caso Snowden situó las cargas explosivas y el puente ha sido volado con la decisión del TJE. Ganamos en garantías de nuestros derechos, pero es el momento de analizar las consecuencias económicas en ambas riberas del Atlántico. 

Como se esperaba, EEUU ha mostrado su enfado con la decisión del TJE. La Embajada norteamericana en Bruselas ya había publicado la semana anterior una declaración inusual sobre el dictamen previo a la decisión del Abogado General del Tribunal. La Embajada advertía del "daño importante a la protección de los derechos individuales y el libre flujo de la información que se produciría si se siguiera la opinión del Abogado General".

La molestia de EEUU es fácil de entender. El libre flujo de datos es uno de los pilares de la economía estadounidense, sustentado sobre la base de que el país es el vórtice de los servicios digitales. El análisis de la OCDE de los sitios de Internet más importantes del mundo sugiere que los servicios basados en datos se concentran de forma desproporcionada en EEUU, que alberga a más de 50% de todos los hosts alojados en dominios principales en el área OCDE. Por su parte, RJMetrics ha estimado que más del 55% de los científicos de datos del mundo se encuentran en los EEUU. La decisión del TJE podría introducir un cambio radical en el escenario de la economía de datos, que podría llevar a una importante migración de infraestructuras tecnológicas y puestos de trabajo de EEUU a la UE. Proveer los servicios digitales desde suelo europeo podría proporcionar las empresas tecnológicas americanas una manera menos gravosa de mantenerse dentro del cumplimiento de la normativa de protección de datos europea.

Podría parecer que las consecuencias de la decisión del TJE son sólo positivas para Europa. Sin embargo, no hay que precipitarse en las conclusiones. Entre 2008 y 2012, la capacidad de los cables de comunicaciones submarinos entre EEUU y Europa creció a una tasa promedio anual de 19%. El aumento de los obstáculos para este intercambio de datos con la aplicación de la decisión del TJE podría tener grandes consecuencias también para la maltrecha economía europea. De acuerdo con el ECIPE, en un escenario extremo sin flujo de datos personales hacia dentro o fuera de la UE, la economía europea perdería un 1,1% del PIB. Existe también el riesgo de que la actividad económica derivada del flujo de datos entre EEUU y la UE pueda emigrar a la cuenca del Pacífico. El recientemente acordado TPP entre EEUU y varios estados del Pacífico incluye medidas para promover el libre flujo de datos entre ellos.

La decisión del TJE ha creado un escenario económicamente perjudicial tanto para EEUU como la UE. Sin embargo, puede haber sentado también las bases de una gran oportunidad. Después de años de vivir en la ficción de un acuerdo ya es hora de salir fuera de Matrix y llegar a una solución real. El nuevo Acuerdo de Puerto Seguro debe ser respetuoso con los principios compartidos de los derechos humanos, pero al mismo tiempo apoyar la innovación y el comercio basado en las tecnologías digitales. Volviendo a "Casablanca", esto no debe ser el final de la historia, sino el comienzo de una hermosa amistad.

lunes, 26 de octubre de 2015

#Broadband #Google #TTIP Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (26/10/2015)

International Benchmarking Report 2015

A report published by Anaysys Mason on the state of broadband services in the five major EU economies.

Searching for harm or harming search? A look at the European Commission’s antitrust investigation against Google

A review of the the European Commission’s antitrust investigation against Google.

TTIP: Challenges and Opportunities in the Area of Services

This paper was prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. It finds that there is significant scope for the EU to benefit from freeing up of transatlantic services trade while safeguarding European values and preserving the right to regulate.

miércoles, 21 de octubre de 2015

Fitness trackers in the workingplace

There is not one day you can live without discovering the importance of a new business niche based on technology. Beyond the more classic and well known electronic versions of economic activities (such e-banking or e-commerce) or the digitalisation of daily use products (e.g. ebooks), disruptive business models are changing the underpinning of our society. The tip of the iceberg of this disruptive models are the so called sharing economy services.

One of the main objective of this disruptions is the labour model in its wholeness. Digitalisation is accelerating the change of the framework relationship between employer and employee. Not only there are arising new employment models enabling by technology, like zero hours contract or service vouchers agencies, the more classic form of employer has new tools to increase productivity of the employers. Do not think only in tools for making easier the daily working routine. There are evidences of the benefits for a company productivity of healthy employers and now they are beginning to have the right tools to control the activity levels of the workers and incentivise it.

We usually think in the health apps and devices as personal use items, nevertheless there is market for "corporate wellness" outside and these items are the enabling tool for it. "Corporate wellness" is nothing new, but until now the success of employee-based wellness programs was difficult to ensure due to the lack of tools for measuring its implementation. This demand looks to be on the path to be satisfied by the fitness trackers

However, there are pros and cons on this usage of fitbit and other devices as corporate welness enablers. An easier implementation of gamification techniques in wellness programs based on these devices is the main appeal for its usage in a corporate environment. But the risk for privacy are obvious and the the need to allow some choice of the device will drive us to face challenges similar to the implementation of BYOD policies.

Anyway, the business niche has been identified. Corporate fitness is a growing trend that is gaining space even in all kind of media. In a recent report from the BBC, the channel includes some prediction for this market from Gartner:

  • In 2013, about 2,000 companies offered their employees fitness trackers, according to technology research company Gartner. 
  • In 2014, this rose to around 10,000. By 2016, the firm predicts that most large companies - those with more than 500 employees - in both the US and Western Europe will offer fitness trackers with their programmes.

There is not possible benefit without facing a risk. Certainly, fitness trackers in the corporate environment could arise 1984 nightmares in our imagination, however the value of the benefits are so high to despise them. More than 80 bn cost per year due to inactivity deserves some thinking in well balanced policies to reap this benefits.

lunes, 19 de octubre de 2015

#DataProtection #IoT #Broadband Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (19/10/2015)

Digital consumer survey

A survey commissioned by ETNO about the habits of digital consumer. The main focus is the consumer perception on how different kind companies, specially OTT and telcos, handle personal data.

Unlocking the potential of the Internet of Things

A report published by MckKinsey that identifies uses cases for Internet of the Thing and estimates its potential value.

The State of Broadband 2015

The yearly report of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, an ITU high level group. It shows success cases of broadband policies as a support for global development and includes indicators to follow-up the deployment of broadband worldwide.

viernes, 16 de octubre de 2015

"Pan, educación y libertad" - Petros Markaris

Pan, educación, libertad (Spanish Edition)Pan, educación, libertad by Petros Markaris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Markaris sigue explorando junto a Jaritos la Grecia de la gran recesión. En esta ocasión, toma como marco de referencia por el pasado imperfecto de una Grecia que abandona el Euro el primero de enero de 2014. La elección del contexto no es casual. Markaris se nota cansado de la interminable crisis, de la realidad griega, y lleva a Jaritos a un escenario manifiestamente de ficción. Y en ficción evidente se convierte todo el relato. Ficción es que pague, de modo sangriento, la generación de la lucha antifascista por su decadencia, por haberse corrompido y haber llevado Grecia a la peor de sus crisis.

El cansancio de Markaris, desgraciadamente, hace mella en su personaje y en la historia. Novela de oficio, con estilo de urgencia. Un relato que desea ser acabado, o quizás no haber sido empezado. Solo atrae la justicia poética del asesinato del padre.

Acabando la lectura recordé al inolvidable Manuel Vázquez-Montalban. Carvalho habría sido nuestro mejor guía en esta interminable crisis. La muerte figurativa de la generación de la transición y el fin del régimen del 78, son parte de la novela que nunca llegará a protagonizar el detective de debilidades gastronómicas.

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miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2015

Algorithm weaknesses are the guarantee for the continuation of human being activities

There's a growing sense of defeat among human beings. We are living the current age as the age of the rise of the machines, each day we read a piece of new about the automatisation of a human activity. Whether we think in an activity based on mere routines or based on creativity, we feel that sooner or later machines will perform our duties better than us. The full digitalisation and the disappearance of bank branches is an example of the former. Among the later, we have examples on how computer-generated reporting is threatening traditional literature and journalismThe final fear is that human beings will be redundant in all the activities.

Without any doubt, Google is the main symbol of the automatisation of our daily life. 40,7% of the world population uses the Internet and has a daily experience of Google search algorithm. A shine of hope came to our lives some months ago when we discovered that the Google algorithms are not perfect. We hope that we have discovered the tip of an iceberg of failures with the case of the tagging of the images of black people as gorillas or the cases of gender discrimination in Google ads. Both cases show the limits of automatisation, there are spaces in sorting activity where we need an extra dose of activity or a moral judgement that algorithms are not capable to perform.

Sorting and classification are the base of automatisation. Internet giants are constantly looking for improvements in their sorting and classification algorithm. For instance, Twitter acquired a few months ago the machine-learning startup Whetlab in order to obtain new abilities to organize the tweets. But the weaknesses of sorting and classification algorithms also open a window of opportunity for human activity. Apple is turning to human beings in the search for help to run the last mile of sorting and classification in its news service.

Algorithms are not perfect. That fact makes automatisation an imperfect activity that will need the support of human beings for its continuous improvement, As continuous improvement, either for machines or living beings, is the cornerstone for survival, it is quite difficult to think in a total rupture of the link between machines and human beings that will mean the total redundancy of our specie. It would be again the most elemental of artificial (and not artificial) intelligence: the search for self-preservation.

lunes, 12 de octubre de 2015

#OTT #VAT #startup Somwhere in #Digital Europe ... (12/10/2015)

Study to quantify and analyse the VAT Gap in the EU Member States

A report commissioned by the European Commission to investigate the EU gap in Member States.

Investment in networks, facilities and equipment by content and application providers

Analysis Mason assess the investments of content and application providers in 2011-2013. Although they only select a handful of them, the report serves to give an idea of the expenses in infrastructure of OTTs

The globalisation of angel investments

A study published by Bruegel on the nature and consequences of angel investments across a variety of geographies with varying levels of venture capital markets and other forms of risk capital.

jueves, 8 de octubre de 2015

#Telecom #DigitalSingleMarket #App Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (8/10/2015)

Addressing fragmentation in EU mobile telecom markets 

This policy contribution of the Bruegel think-tank looks at EU mobile telecoms markets and analyses potential concrete measures to improve end-users’ access conditions and address EU market fragmentation.

Towards a Digital Single Market Act

The Europeran Parliament is working on an opinion called "Towards a Digital Single Market Act". Both the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and for the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection are leading the drafting while the other committees are giving their input. This is input provided by the Committee on Transport and Tourism.

All about that app

Another study on the app economy. This time the focus is on the use of apps to transform how we work and live.   

lunes, 5 de octubre de 2015

Tackling the challenges: The French #Digital Republic Bill

As happened with the XX century, it looks that the XXI century has started with some delay. If a war is considered the starting point of the XX century, the digital revolution will be considered in the future the starting point of the XXI century. Although it is difficult to determine the starting point of the digital revolution, I would vote for the day  the iphone was presented. But defining the starting point is less important now than facing the new reality. Tackling the risk and challenges of the new landscape required new laws. Following the latter line of thought, the French government is working on "The Digital Republic Bill".

The incomparable sense of making history of the french people has pushed its government to design the law around three axis named after the French Revolution motto: "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité". Freedom for the flow of data, Equality of rights for Internet users and Fraternity through an inclusive society. The final objective of the French government is two-fold:
  • Giving France the lead in digital technology
  • Forging a resolutely contemporary digital policy

For this purpose they have proposed a law draft with three chapters, one per each of the above mentioned axis. However, it is not a closed draft yet. In a recognition of the complexity of the task the law draft is open for comments for some weeks.

The law draft has been published only in French. It contains many interesting ideas for policy makers and it is difficult highlighting one of them. However, perhaps the more interesting part due to its connection with the global European digital debate are the articles dedicated to the regulation of digital platforms. The draft introduces a definition of platform, establishes requirements for data portability to ease service switching and set obligations regarding information for the consumer. After many claims jointly with Germany for the regulation of platforms at the European level without a concrete answer from the European Commission beyond a public consultation, France has decide to face the issue by itself. The decision is based in many interesting previous studies as this one regarding the neutrality of digital platforms.

It is not difficult to forecast that the Digital Republic Bill will be analysed by many policy makers around the world and set the course for many forthcoming regulations. Nevertheless, it shows again the main of the European weaknesses in the digital arena: the fragmentation of the European Digital Market. The European Institutions, in particular the European Commission, should be more agile in order to tackle the digital challenges. The alternative is making the Digital Single Market a too far to be reached target.

miércoles, 30 de septiembre de 2015

Towards the Alphabet Home

Internet of the Things is driving the acceleration of hyperconnectivity. We are walking towards the ubiquitous Internet with great strides and it looks that our own home will be full of devices connected to the network. According with a recent Business Insider report,  connected-home device shipments will grow at a compound annual rate of 67% over the next five years. This will mean reaching 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019. 

The growing business of Smart Home has not gone unnoticed to the digital giants, especially to the biggest of them: the company formerly known as Google. Getting ready to reap all the opportunities from the Smart Home business is one of the keys to understand the creation of Alphabet. The new organisation is definitive leap ahead in the strategy that started more than a year ago with the 3.2$ billion acquisition of Nest. Even more, it looks that the organisation of Google assets has been a Nest-oriented reorganisation. Nest now has the autonomy to develop its own alliances strategy and its reinforced in the agility needed to grow in a dynamic sector.

The Alphabet accumulation of assets around the Smart Homes business does not end in the Nest devices. In the last months other two elements of Alphabet´s Smart Home building were laid down. Firstly, an operating system and a communication protocol. Brillo and Weave is a clear step in the direction of trying to create a full Smart Home ecosystem following the successful model underpinned by Android in the mobile world. Secondly, a gateway for the interconnection of the Smart Home devices with the Internet. OnHub, based on Brillo OS, with its complete set of wireless protocols, aims to be the essential element of our connected home. 

Besides Alphabet, Apple and Alibaba are also developing its own strategies to grab their part of the business.  We should have few doubts that Smart Homes will be one of the hottest areas of the battle for the digital economy supremacy. But the main signal, as usual, is the interest of the company formerly known as Google. They want to make your home an Alphabet Home.

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

#StartUp #TTIP #Reserach Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (28/9/2015)

Policy Lessons from Financing Innovative Firms

This paper seeks to summarise the lessons learned in seed and early stage finance based on OECD work focused on policies related to financing high growth firms, including angel investment and venture capital.

TTIP: Trade in services, investment and e-commerce

This document is the European Union's proposal for services, investment and e-commerce text. It was tabled for discussion with the US in the negotiating round of 12 -17 July 2015 and made public on 31 July 2015. The actual text in the final agreement will be a result of negotiations between the EU and US. The document contains the EU proposal for e-commerce and telecom services.

Annual Report on Research and Technological Development Activities of the European Union in 2014

The Annual Report on research and technological development activities of the European Union (EU) is prepared pursuant to Article 190 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of key measures undertaken in the reporting year

miércoles, 23 de septiembre de 2015

#SDG : #ICT and #digital not ready yet for prime time

This weekend the world will transit from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Fifteen years after their approval as the targets to promote a global commitment towards development, MDG have been the catalyst of an unexpected success story. The last yearly report shows great advances  in all the indicators associated to each of the goals. 

From September 25th to September 27th the global leaders will meet to sign the already agreed new global targets for development. The SDG have already rise some criticism due to the high number of targets and its complex structure. While the MDG established just 8 global goals, the SDG will establish 17 global goals each of them with several sub targets.

During the implementation of the MDG, United Nations recognised the importance of ICT as enablers of the efforts for achieving the development objectives. This recognition was behind the creation in 2010 of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a joint-venture of UNESCO and ITU. The main objective of the commission was boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and expanding broadband access in every country as a key to accelerating progress towards MDGs. 

Among the activities of the Broadband Commission is publishing a yearly report. The report contains advice for the design of broadband policies and a follow-up of five global indicators related with extending connectivity. The last report published on monday shows a progress in each of the indicators (Broadband as a universal policy, affordable connections, extending broadband to all the households, getting people online, gender equality in broadband access), although the progress is perhaps slower than would be desirable.

However, the great failure of the Broadband Commission and the global ICT community is not the improvable progress of global connectivity, but not having been able to make "digital" seen as a prime-time target in the new SDG. In spite of the above mentioned duplication of development goals, ICTs are included in the SDG only in the second level of subtargets. The set of success stories on how ICTs has helped the 8 MDG that the Broadband Commission has included in all its reports has apparently not impressed enough the global leaders.

We cannot expect another opportunity to establish the development of ICT policies as a clear global objective until 2030. Besides the new targets regarding the extension on supply and take-up of ICT that we can expect the Broadband Commission will establish, the main target should be establishing digital policies as a frontline priority. In spite of all the big words, this target is still far to be achieved.

lunes, 21 de septiembre de 2015

#OpenData #TTIP #Digital Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (21/9/2015)

Economic vitality 2.0 : Prosperity and public engagement in a data-driven world

A report published by IBM about the data-driven economy. The focus is on how the public sectore can help to build vibrant ecosystem to boost the data economy and its other possible contributions as the massive publishing of open data

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer Protection

This paper examines options for regulatory cooperation in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and assesses the challenges and opportunities posed by regulatory cooperation for consumer protection. It includes as an specific case sutudy the consumer protection issues related with ICT products and services.

Guiding digital transformation

A study published by Accenture on the factors that help to the digital transformation of the countries and the economic opportunities that come from it. It also includes the digital density index that evaluates the readiness of some leading economies to take advantage of the digital opportunity.

miércoles, 16 de septiembre de 2015

#Copyright #Cloud #SmartLiving Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (16/9/2015)

Remuneration of authors and performers for the use of their works and the fixations of their performances

A new EU study looks at the level of remuneration paid to authors and performers in the music and audio-visual sectors in ten EU countries (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark and Lithuania). The Commission is looking for evidence whether, and to what extent, the differences that exist among the Member States affect levels of remuneration and the functioning of the internal market.

Software & Services, Cloud Computing H2020 Project Portfolio

The first Work Programme of Horizon 2020 invited proposals for Research and Innovation projects in the areas of cloud computing and software technologies. The selected projects represent a critical mass of research and innovation activities to keep Europe at the forefront of the developments in cloud computing and software technologies.

Workshop on Age-Friendly Homes and Smart Living

As identified in the Silver Economy Strategy, the creation of age-friendly housing can support the growing ageing population in staying active, independent and out of institutional care settings. This will lead to reduced costs for care delivery systems and better quality of life for vulnerable categories of citizens (elderly citizens and their carers or families). The overall objective of the workshop was to mobilise support from public authorities and stakeholders on a set of complementary actions that can be pursued at EU, national and regional level, by public authorities and stakeholders (industry, R&I, investment community) and that can lead to an increase in the number of age-friendly homes in Europe.

lunes, 14 de septiembre de 2015

The EU #telecom reform : the cornerstone for the #DigitalSingleMarket

The European Commission has included the review of telecom market legal framework as an action to start in 2015,  both in its REFIT programme and in the strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market in Europe. Although Europe enjoys one of the the most competitive telecom market in the world, it is lagging behind in 4G deployment and it doesn't exist any real pan-european telecom operator ready to take advantage of the opportunities of the world biggest free trade area. Only these two pieces of information justified a reform of the EU telecom market.

It is not the first attempt of the European Commission in the last years to completely overhaul the 2009 telecom package. The former telco Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, proposed in September 2013 the "Connected Continent" package. This proposal included measures for the harmonisation of the wholesale access products, strengthening the coordination of spectrum policies, the review of the institutional regulatory framework, the creation of a unified authorisation process for telecom operators, an agreement of a common interpretation for net neutrality in Europe and the end of roaming charges. For different reasons, both the Parliament and the Council rejected some of the measures. In the end, only the last two measures have survived the legislative process that is expected to finish by the end of 2015 after the agreement reached between the European institutions in June in the three-way negotiations.

Although there is not a firm proposal for the new regulation yet, the communication "A Digital Single Market strategy for Europe" hinted some of the areas that would be tackled in it. The European Commission set as the general aims for the review "making telecoms rules fit for purpose"  and develop the "right regulatory conditions for investment, fair competition and a level playing field". In order to achieve these goals the European Commission has the intention to propose measures focusing on achieving more coordination on spectrum policies, tackling with the regulatory fragmentation, ensuring a level playing field between some telco services and their equivalent OTT applications, reviewing of the universal service definition and setting up a new architecture for the regulatory institutional framework. In a recent blog post, the DG responsible for the review, Roberto Viola, has hinted other possible complementary measures as establishing more ambitious targets for connectivity in Europe and addressing the extension of high-speed broadband to rural areas through investment incentives.

There is a clear overlap among the measures that were included in the "Connected Continent" package and those that would be included in the forthcoming regulatory proposal of the new commissioner, Gunther Oettinger. After the rejection from the Council of a more centralised spectrum policy and the opposition to the institutional regulatory reform from both the Council and the Parliament, the Commission will need to innovate in its proposals. As Einstein said, it would be difficult to achieve a different result doing the same things, and the risk would be facing another fruitless debate for a couple of years. Furthermore, the EC should start by exploring critically its own thoughts before publishing the new proposal. For instance, although the EC mainly blames the lack of coordination in spectrum policies for the delay in the deployment of 4G, the larger period of economic crisis in Europe in comparison with US or Asia has had a certain and equal impact on the lack of the needed telco investments to deploy the 4G networks. Regarding the institutional framework, beyond an stable chairpersonship for BEREC, we may need a complete review of the definition, status and role of the independent national regulators after the liberalisation of the telco sector has finished in Europe many years ago.

Some experts missed tackling other areas besides the known intentions for the reform. There are voices claiming to solve first the contradictory approach of the EC to the consolidation of the telco market in Europe. On one hand, they say that the DG responsible for the telco regulation claims the need for market consolidation to guarantee the long-term sustainability of EU operators. On the other hand, they state that the DG responsible for competence has short-term consumer protection as one of its priorities and usually demands strict remedies for the merger that disincentivizes pan-european M&A. The experts claim both interests are conflicting and the dilemma should be solved within the EC before proposing any new regulation, that "the commission’s competition policy has hindered the EU’s goals of bolstering the tech sector and establishing better digital interconnections across Europe". What it is the same, they alert that EU would risk having a potential conflict between the goals of the future ex-ante and ex-post regulatory tools.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the telecom services are included among the services which market access conditions are under negotiation within the TTIP. The EC have made public at last its proposal for this negotiation. The text published is not far away the EU acquis, but at the same time it is highlighted that there is already a first draft of the consolidated version not published. The coincidence of the TTIP negotiation and the development of the new EU telco regulatory framework will demand an extra effort of regulatory coherence from the EU institutions.

The reform of the EU telecom market is the cornerstone of the Digital Single Market Strategy. Innovative proposals are needed that, at the same time, protect the consumer and promote investment by all the actors of the digital value chain. The strong competition in the European telecom market should be complemented with the right competition tools that allow the growth of the EU telecom operators within Europe and in the global digital market that will be reinforced with the free trade agreements under negotiation.

How to reach the above ambitious combination of goals? The European Commission has opened a public consultation on the matter that will be open until December 7th. It is the time to contribute to this key project for the future of the digital Europe.

viernes, 11 de septiembre de 2015

"The bookshop", Penelope Fitzgerald

The BookshopThe Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any bookworm has desired at one moment of its life to run a bookshop. At least, that has been my personal history. The appeal to have all the books at your disposal and all the time you would need to read them, it is an image that has lured me as my most yearned lifestyle many times. Perhaps, that is the reason why I decided to read "The bookshop", written by Penelope Fitzgerald.

But "The bookshop" is more than the story of a woman who loves books and decided to share that passion with her passion with her hometown. The book is a parable about the unequal fight between any dreamer and the establishment of his environment. Florence Green chose to be a bookshop in a village without bookshops, she was living in the vanish hope that the village was waiting someone brave enough to set up a bookshop. Along the pages of the novel, we share with Florence the growing disappointment when she discovered her error. Furthermore, we shared her loneliness in the fight against the village establishment that bet for the failure of the bookshop since the begining. Change "bookshop" for any personal idealistic project, the story would be the same.

Florence is from the same tribe of Don Quixote. The end of the story couldn´t be different. But in this case, the end let us a shine of hope that our heroin would try it again.

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