A recent speech by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BIS, laid out a thought provoking vision for a ‘digital single market’. Delivered at the ‘EU in a Digital Age’ conference in Copenhagen, the speech focused on two aspects of the digital economy - e-commerce, and the provision of digital services online.

Talking about e-commerce, Baroness Rolfe commented on the number of consumers turning to online shopping, not only on PCs, but on tablets and smartphones, and that e-commerce turnover had grown by 16% across Europe even in the last year.

She acknowledged that retailers can find it difficult to make the transition from physical shops to the digital world, but also emphasised the market potential this could bring if the European market opened up – both for businesses and consumers. Currently, however, only 15% of EU consumers have purchased online from another EU country (compared to 47% who have purchased online from their own country). In order to create a single market she made several proposals about both consumers and businesses. With regards to consumers she recommended:

  • introducing a common set of consumer rights
  • ensuring that EU consumer protection rules are easy for consumers to understand and act on
  • ensuring that prices for digital products and services should not change unfairly on the basis of where consumers come from in the EU

In order to encourage businesses to take advantage of the single market, sell online and grow she suggested:

  • Making it easier to establish a business in other member states
  • Creating a secure, business-friendly, cross-border electronic identity process.
  • Providing  businesses with easy access to information on how to trade online in any member state. The public sector, that means the Commission, member states and local government, can lead the way here.

Specifically with regard to digital content, she also discussed the importance of addressing copyright issues in a digital single market. “If we want companies to make their content more widely available,” she said, “they need to be confident that the enforcement framework should back them up."

For the full transcript of the speech, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/vision-for-a-digital-single-market


Tags: single digital market BIS Baroness Rolfe e-commerce

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