The digital single market is full of potential for Europe, but putting it in place requires painstaking work on EU regulation and laws, according to European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip.
“The single market was beneficial for everybody, but exists only in the physical world,” said Ansip, who is responsible for the digital single market.
“The DSM does not exist. But it could contribute €415bn a year to the economy,” he told an audience at a ‘Conversation With’ event organised by Friends of Europe.
The difficulties of implementation can be seen in roaming surcharges for mobile devices, which the Commission has promised to abolish by June 2017. However, this is problematic for countries in southern Europe, who need to invest in infrastructure to cope with the increased volume of phone and data traffic in the summer tourist season. “They get no revenues in the off-season, so it is reasonable to ask for higher prices in the summer,” Ansip said. “We have to find compromise between south and north.”
Another barrier in the digital single market is ‘geo-blocking’, where online content is blacked out in various countries. That means that subscribers to digital services in one member state often cannot view content when they are elsewhere in Europe.
“Twenty percent of Europeans spend at least ten days a year in another EU member state,” Ansip said. “They want to get access to what they have bought in their countries, but they cannot.”
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