A digital single market for Europe
In order to benefit fully from the digital revolution, Europe needs to become a digital single market - as quickly as possible.
The EU Media Futures Forum (an advisory group to the European Commission) has published a report outlining the current barriers to digital success - and has proposed some practical solutions. Although the digital economy has contributed to a growth of 8% to the EU GDP over the last ten years, other regions have benefited more.
The Forum wants to ensure that the appropriate technical, regulatory and fiscal infrastructures are in place to ensure that the EU becomes a global leader in high speed internet access by 2020.
- Inconsistent tax rules and regulations e.g VAT on digital products and services
- Inconsistent rules and regulations concerning personal data
- Rewards for content creation are compromised by piracy
- National fragmentation in film and broadcast world
- Unfair competition caused by differing rules for online and off-line and between EU and no-EU countries
- Competition rules and legislation has not caught up with the digital world
- Geo-blocking of content between countries will be unsustainable as cloud services become more ubiquitous
- Inconsistent availability of super-fast broadband
The Forum outlines what it believes the Commission should focus on to overcome these challenges. They recommend that:
- Policies should be put in place to incentivise investment in building next generation networks
- Resources should be pooled to encourage the film/broadcasting industries and to improve access to venture capital
- The EU should work towards equitable regulatory and fiscal principles, so that companies can thrive in a fair marketplace
- High quality journalism should be encouraged. A 'European Pulitzer' prize should be created.
In order to benefit from the digital revolution, the Forum believes that Europe must become a truly digital single market by 2015. Calling on Europe to 'wake up' to the opportunities, they call for the development of an environment that can help European companies compete on a global scale. This would include ensuring appropriate remuneration for content creators and clarity on net neutrality.
The Forum's members, 28 leading figures from sectors including academia, publishers and new media, believe the EU must act quickly if it is to maximise its digital potential. A healthy digital landscape is important economically, but also critical to media pluralism and democracy.
The report is available here.