Europe’s Digital Single Market Strategy – a focus on Pillar 2

On 6 May 2015, the European Commission published its Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe. The Strategy sets out a total of 16 initiatives under 3 pillars which lay the groundwork for Europe’s digital future.

In this post (the third in a series following our overview last week), we focus on the initiatives introduced under the second pillar: Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish.

While Pillar 1 focuses on removing cross-border barriers, the Commission also recognises that Europe’s network infrastructure is key to a successful Digital Single Market. Consequently, with this pillar the Commission is seeking to encourage a reliable, trustworthy, high-speed and affordable network on which future digital innovations (including cloud computing, Big Data and the Internet of Things) will be built.

The Commission has set out 5 initiatives to achieve these aims:

Reform the regulatory regime in telecoms and audio-visual media

1.Reform EU telecoms rules – this will include reforming for EU wide coordination of spectrum allocation; a review of the Universal Services Directive (2002/22/EC) and the adoption of the Telecoms Single Market package which will address net neutrality and ending roaming surcharges for data within the EU.

2.Review the Audio-visual Media Services Directive (2010/13/EU) focusing on its scope, in particular whether it should be broadened to encompass new services and players not currently captured and whether its rules are up to date with market and technological developments.

Set EU frameworks in cybersecurity and privacy

3.Establishing a contractual Public-Private Partnership on cybersecurity in the area of technologies and solutions for online network security, in addition to the new Network and Information Security Directive which is currently in the legislative process.

4.Build on the new Data Protection Regulation when it comes into force by reviewing the e-Privacy Directive (2002/58/EC), in particular whether its scope should be expanded to ISPs. 

Review the role of online platforms

5.Analyse the role of online platforms (for example search engines, social media and app stores) in the EU market – including looking at how to best tackle illegal content online whilst ensuring that citizens’ right to freedom of expression is preserved; reviewing how online platforms use data they collect; portability between platforms; relations between platforms and suppliers; and transparency (e.g. paid for links or adverts in search results).

The Commission has published a roadmap for these initiatives to take place over the next 2 years. According to this, first in line from the Pillar 2 initiatives above will be the Commission’s review of the role of online platforms in the EU market which is scheduled to launch before the end of 2015, underlining the importance of online platforms in the Commission’s eyes.

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