Rural Digital Divide

Rural Digital Divide

E RADAR and the HD8 Network are calling for more strategic investment to help rural businesses realise the full potential of the digital economy and narrow the rural digital divide. Speaking at a high-level round-table at the European Commission in London, HD8 Network’s founder Merewyn Sayers expressed concern that many businesses across rural Kirklees are struggling […]

How to manage VAT on Digital Services

How to manage VAT on Digital Services

“If you are providing telecommunications, broadcasting or electronic services (‘digital services’) to consumers across the European Union, you must comply with new laws concerning VAT on digital services and account for VAT where consumers live or are located.” The EU introduced these new rules amid concerns that suppliers trading cross border were avoiding VAT payments on […]

‘Grassroots’ Strategy Key To DSM Success

‘Grassroots’ Strategy Key To DSM Success

The EU’s Digital Single Market (DSM) cannot succeed without a ‘grassroots’ strategy that enables, supports and promotes businesses, groups and individuals already working at the heart of local communities across Europe. DSM implemented bottom up, not top down. Our recent DigiChampz case study in rural Yorkshire concludes that a network of accredited digital champions can offer strategic vision, help, […]

EU Data Protection Reform – A ‘Demented’ Set Of Regulations?

EU Data Protection Reform – A ‘Demented’ Set Of Regulations?

Plans to update data protection laws in Europe are facing increasing criticism from members of the European Parliament, with one UK commentator calling the draft proposals “a completely demented set of regulations.” But Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding remains adamant that her proposals should become law and has even accused the UK Government of introducing additional complexities. […]

EU Digital Single Market: what the European Council means for you

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The conclusions of yesterday evening’s European Council contain a very significant message for the Digital Agenda. It asks for work to be prioritised in a few areas essential to growth and competitiveness—in particular information and communication services (ICT):

the European Council notes the Commission’s intention to report well before October on the state of play and the remaining obstacles to be tackled so as to ensure the completion of a fully functioning Digital Single Market by 2015, as well as concrete measures to establish the single market in Information and Communications Technology as early as possible.

For anyone who uses digital communications – from mobile phones to the internet – this is important and welcome news. And I would guess that’s everyone reading this blog.

The EU has spent the past few decades liberalising and improving the EU’s telecoms market. That has brought more competition, lower call and broadband prices, and significant new consumer rights. Gone are the days when your “choice” was restricted to confirming you would use the single, national phone company. And we are working hard to prove that sustainable competition and investment in high-speed networks can go hand in hand.

Unfortunately, the EU is still essentially a collection of 27 distinct national telecoms markets. And that fragmentation has consequences. It means that customer choice, for both consumers and business users, is limited to what happens to be on offer locally – and that can vary a lot, due to factors such as diverging regulation or the patchwork of uncoordinated past spectrum assignments for wireless operators. For businesses like telecoms operators, including those present in multiple countries, it means they don’t get the advantages of organising their operations to serve an EU-wide market, and can’t reach the size and scale needed to invest, innovate and compete globally.

Already I know that many of these are nagging issues for many Europeans. Too often, it’s the digital device in your pocket that constantly (and artificially) reminds you of national borders that are supposed to have disappeared. In tomorrow’s world of machine-to-machine communications—connected cars, mobile payments, and the Internet of Things—this could be even more of an issue.

Solving these problems takes ambition: but the potential reward is significant. Fully completing the EU’s single market in digital communications could boost our economy by up to €110 billion a year; over 0.8% of GDP. That’s too good an opportunity to miss.

So, in response to the European Council’s request, I will present a package of measures for endorsement by their October meeting.

I look forward to working with Member States, the European Parliament, the digital industry and consumers over the next few months to prepare that.

This has the potential to make people’s lives easier, make our businesses more productive, and ensure a globally competitive European telecoms sector. At a time when our economy really needs a boost, it’s great to see European leaders recognising the potential of EU action.

Commission launches online gambling strategy

Commission launches online gambling strategy

The European Commission has set out its new action plan for online gambling. In a Communication entitled ‘Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling’, the Commission identifies the key challenges arising from the co-existence of differing national regulatory frameworks for online gambling within the Internal Market and draws from the themes highlighted in the […]