miércoles, 21 de enero de 2015

How #TTIP and #TISA could help to build the #DigitalSingleMarket

Right now, the European Union is engaged in negotiations of several international trade treaties. The most well-known is the TTIP, but there are also others as TiSA that draw less attention from the public. The less attention they draw the less information is available. It would be impossible to write an article about TiSA and the digital economy as long as the one I wrote about the TTIP and digital economy. Nevertheless, this does not mean it is a less important treaty.

The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated by 23 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the European Union. The aim of TiSA is to facilitate trade in services in the countries taking part in the talks, so providers from one country can offer their services in another. TiSA addresses barriers to trade in services between the countries taking part in the talks: treating foreign suppliers differently from local ones, limiting the extent to which foreign suppliers can opérate.

To cut a long story short, TiSA tries to goes deeper in the elimination of trade barriers for services achieved in the WTO's 1995 General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). In 1995 the digital economy was virtually inexistent, therefore among the most important topics covered by the TiSA is the update of the trade rules for telecommunication services and the creation of  trade rules for a new category of services called e-commerce.

As in the case of TTIP, the European Commission is negotiating the TiSA in complete secrecy. Furthermore, the citizens have less clues of the topics that are on the table due to the more shorter extension of the press material released for TiSA compared with the press material for TTIP. While we only know that in the 10th round of TiSA negotiations telecommunication services are on the table, after the 7th round of the TTIP negotiations we have at least a list of topics under negotiation for telecommunication and e-commerce services. However, it is worrisome for the citizens and businesses not knowing the position regarding the digital economy of the European Union in neither of them.

The digital economy is one of the cornerstones for the trade between the EU and its partners. Nevertheless, the lack of transparency on the negotiations about the digital issues does not help to foster the trust in the convenience of the TTIP and TiSA for the digital Europe. As a consequence of this lack of transparency, the leaks of the US position for e-commerce within TiSA creates uncertainty and undermines the efforts of the EU institutions for establishing the regulation pillars of the Digital Single Market. While endless negotiations are taken place about net neutrality and personal data protection between the Council and the Parliament, the European Commission is negotiating other terms for both issues behind the stage with the USA and other partners. Establishing a clear connection between both scenarios of negotiation would be extremely helpful to define the European digital stage and boost the needed investment in digital infrastructures.

The new European commission has highlighted building up the Digital Single Market as one of its priorities for 2015-20. As the Digital Single Market could not be isolated from the global digital economy, the trade international treaties under negotiation could be levers for a Digital Europe. But the opportunity of an early alignment between the Digital Single Market and the Digital Economy of the future would be only possible fostering the alignment of the negotiation of the TTIP and TiSA with the usual EU legislative process. Nevertheless, this is an opportunity not exempt of risks

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