Digital Single Market: mid-term review

Having reached the middle of its mandate, the European Commission published today the mid-term review of its Digital Single Market strategy.

It takes stock of the progress made, calls on co-legislators to swiftly act on all proposals already presented, and outlines further actions on online platforms, data economy and cybersecurity.

Since May 2015, the European Commission has delivered 35 legislative proposals and policy initiatives as announced in its Digital Single Market strategy. The focus is now on obtaining political agreement with the European Parliament and the Council on all proposals, above all the updated EU telecoms rules which will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks, which are critical for the full deployment of the digital economy and society.

In today’s mid-term review communication the Commission has identified three main areas where further EU action is needed: (1) to develop the European Data Economy to its full potential, (2) to protect Europe’s assets by tackling cybersecurity challenges, and (3) to promote the online platforms as responsible players of a fair internet ecosystem.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market said: “The Commission has lived up to its promise and presented all main initiatives for building a Digital Single Market. Now, the European Parliament and Member States need to adopt these proposals as soon as possible, for new jobs, business and innovation to take off across Europe. Two years on, we propose to update our strategy to reflect new challenges and technologies. We need cyber-secure infrastructure across all parts of the EU so that everyone – everywhere – can enjoy high-speed connectivity safely. We have already agreed on strong EU rules for personal data protection; we now need to make sure that non-personal data can flow freely to assist connected cars and eHealth services. We need high-performance computing along with a digitally skilled workforce to make the most out of the data economy. All these areas are essential for Europe’s digital future.”

According to a new Eurobarometer study also released today, two-thirds of Europeans think that the use of the most recent digital technologies has a positive impact on society, the economy and their own lives. A majority of respondents expect the EU, Member States’ and companies to take action to address the issues raised by digitisation (such as the impact on jobs and the need for better digital skills).

Today’s Review maps out the way ahead in three key areas:

  • On the data economy, the Commission is preparing a legislative initiative on the cross-border free flow of non-personal data (Autumn 2017) and an initiative on accessibility and reuse of public and publicly funded data (Spring 2018). In addition, the Commission will continue its work on liability and other emerging data issues.
  • In cybersecurity, by September 2017, the Commission will review the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and the mandate of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), to align it to the new EU-wide framework on cybersecurity. The Commission will also work to propose additional measures on cyber security standards, certification and labelling to make connected objects more cyber secure.
  • In the area of online platforms, by the end of 2017, the Commission will prepare an initiative to address unfair contractual clauses and trading practices identified in platform-to-business relationships and has also taken recent competition enforcement decisions related to this. The Commission has developed several dialogues with online platforms within the Digital Single Market (e.g. EU Internet Forum, Code of Conduct on illegal online hate speech, and Memorandum of Understanding on the Sale of Counterfeit Goods over the Internet) and plans to coordinate these better. One of the aims is to move forward with the procedural aspects and principles on removal of illegal content – notice and action – based on transparency and protecting the fundamental rights.

In addition, the Commission addresses the need for further investment in digital infrastructure and technologies in areas where investment needs to go far beyond the capacity of single Member States, such as high-performance computing.