A Unified Digital Europe. Is It Possible?

 

Yesterday the European Commission outlined its ambition to create a “genuine Digital Single Market” by 2015. You can read the whole text here if you have some time to kill . . .

 http://ec.europa.eu/news/economy/120111_en.htm

It has the bold aim of “doubling the shares of the internet economy in European GDP and of online sales in European retail by 2015.”

Bold? Not half!

Like many EU documents of this sort, it’s big on ambition but frustratingly light on the “how.” In short, the document outlines 5 key blockers to cross-border growth in the EU, as follows:

·         The supply of legal, cross-border online services is still inadequate.

·         There is not enough information for online service operators or protection for internet users.

·         Payment and delivery systems are still inadequate.

·         There are too many cases of abuse and disputes that are difficult to settle.

·         Insufficient use is made of high-speed communication networks and hi-tech solutions.

And goes on to outline a 16-step “plan” to resolve these issues. This plan promises to address a wide range of maladies, including payments, digital rights, privacy, selective distribution, trust, delivery, returns, dispute resolution, internet security, wireless spectrum sharing, broadband infrastructure rollouts and cloud computing (to name a few). But unfortunately it doesn’t do a great job of telling us exactly what is going to be done. It does however promise that a number of guides, white papers, and strategy documents will be forthcoming throughout 2012. So the EU policy makers are going to be busy writing.

But what does this mean for the eBusiness executive today? Do you need to do anything yet?

Well, not really.

While change is most likely on its way, and in many cases potentially change for the better through simplification of legal frameworks, greater transparency for shoppers and enhanced choice, right now there isn’t anything tangible to hook a strategy or plan onto. Better to concentrate on understanding the Distance Selling and the Privacy directives and how they will be applied within your markets by the various national governments, because both these policies are referenced as cornerstones of this new and wider strategy.

This is a bold ambition, and even if some of it does get mired in legislation and lost in translation, it does show that eCommerce is now regarded as key driver of the EU’s economy.