miércoles, 11 de febrero de 2015

Elements for the forthcoming #EU #Digital Single Market Strategy

Since the inauguration speech of the Presidency of Jean Claude Juncker, the completion of the Digital Single Market has come to the forefront of policy making in Europe. It is more or less clear that once again Europe has failed to reached an objective (building de the DSM in 2015, as it was set in the Digital Agenda for Europe) and new efforts are required. The definition of an strategy " to complete a secure, trustworthy and dynamic Digital Single Market" has been included in the European Commission Working Program 2015 (ECWP2015) and the European Council has called "the Commission to submit an ambitious communication in this area well before the June 2015 European Council" in the conclusions of the meeting held on December 18th

According with the political scenario set above, we can expect to have a renewed Digital Agenda for Europe by June 2015. The nature of the new roadmap for building-up Digital Europe is also described in ECWP2015, it will be composed of a set of "new initiatives, legislative and non-legislative, to bring the Digital Single Market to the level of ambition needed to respond to the existing challenges". The ECWP2015 also give us an scheme of the main chapters of the forecoming DSM strategy, "it will be focused on six strands: building trust and confidence, removing restrictions, ensuring access and connectivity, building the Digital economy, promoting e-society and investing in world-class ICT research and innovation".  

In order to forecast the contain of the chapters of the forecoming DSM strategy, I have taken into consideration the more recent policy documents of the three main European Institutions
In the paragraphs below we try to connect the chapters announced for the DSM strategy with the policy priorities identified in the above mentioned documents.

Building trust and confidence, especially after the NSA surveillance affair, is critical for the completion of the DSM. As the European Parliament stated, cybersecurity and security of electronic communications and networks are "are fundamental prerequisites for its functioning and the creation of citizens’ and consumers’ trust in it". Therefore, the first priority in this area will be to complete the negotiations for the adoption of new regulation regarding personal data protection and the directive for network and information security. Another needed legislative initiative is the evaluation and updating of Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector, the so-called e-privacy Directive,  in order to strike a new balance between privacy and collective security in the Internet flows. Last but not least, there is a general need to ensure internet safety online, in particular for children.

Removing the restrictions and barriers between the Member states Digital Markets it is a must for the creation of the Digital Single Market. The area where this barriers are more outstanding is in the distribution of digital contents and products.  On one hand, this require the modernisation of EU legislation on copyright and on audiovisual media services. On the other hand, it is needed to facilitate e-commerce ensuring the implementation and enforcement of rules such as the Consumer Rights Directive, alternative dispute resolution and online dispute resolution. Finally, there should be some kind of harmonisation of the EU legal framework in order to allow an integrated and secure online and mobile payments market.

Ensuring access and connectivity is the cornerstone of the DSM. The Digital Single Market cannot exist without fast, higher-capacity broadband and telecommunications networks across all EU regions, including remote areas. For this purpose, the first step is finalising the negotiation of the "Connected Continent" regulation that will include a new framework for the progressive elimination of roaming charges and the rules regarding an update of the interpretation of the net neutrality principle. Nevertheless, a complete evaluation and update of the Telecoms Package adopted in 2009 is needed for the creation of an environment that promotes the costly investment in broadband infrastructure. The  future ESIF and the intention of EU investment plan to boost the public-private collaboration would provide a new funding and effective framework for 5G and fibre networks deployment.

Building the digital economy should be based in building a resilient environment capable to digest the technology disruptions. The digitalisation of manufacturing with an industrial dimension of the Digital Agenda should be part of the DSM strategy as the key for increasing productivity and pave the way for Industry 4.0. The digital economy demand the creation of a legal framework to define the role of the digital intermediaries in the service sector in order to allow the development of businesses based on the sharing economy paradigm. This should be part of a broad review of the information society services regulation, which would include among others taxation issues and competition tools for the digital world, but also technical details as the promotion of standards to ensure portability of data between digital platforms. It need to be highlighted that the EU digital economy cannot be build isolated from the global scenario. Therefore, part of the efforts of the DSM strategy should be dedicated to connect the EU digital economy with the world through the free trade agreements under negotiation (TISA, TTIP).

Promoting e-society is as needed as digitising the economy. There are two faces of the same coin that creates a virtuous circle. The more an individual is familiar with ICTs at job the more easy for him to find a purpose of digital devices at home and, therefore, better usage he does of technology in his working time. So fostering the development of digital skills will be one of the main objectives of the DSM strategy, not only for ICT jobs but for its usage in any kind of jobs in order to increase the global productivity of the economy. The implementation of digital-by-default principle within the public sector could be an important leverage for building up an e-society. e-government could be the lighthouse project for a complete digitisation of the service sector. Encouraging the smart usage of data, whether big data, open data or small data, is the other lever for the creation of a digital society able to take advantage of the DSM opportunities.

Europe is lagging behind both in the development of the digital economy and the investment in R&D, so there is need for few reasons to justify the need for investing in world-class ICT research and innovation. It is expected that part of the funds of the Juncker's Plan will be dedicated to research and innovation in digital technologies and infrastructures needed to support e-society and the digital economy. The list of priorities in this field is well-known: big data, cloud computing, Internet of the things, 5G, smart city platforms, ...

Probably, not all the elements for the DSM strategy have been included above. But I´m pretty sure that the elements mentioned will be in new roadmap for a digital Europe. The answer in a few months.

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