Despite its aspirations to become a leader of today’s digital economy, the European Union (EU) still lags behind countries such as China and the United States where start-up ecosystems are thriving as much as investments in research and innovation (R&I). In 2017, only one in five European companies displayed a high or very high digital intensity index (1), and only 6% of ICT and professional service companies declared making a strategic and intense use of data.
To reverse the tendency, the EU established knowledge and innovation as key elements of its EU 2020 Strategy. The European Commission set up 7 flagship initiatives to support that transition, among which the Digital Agenda for Europe and Innovation Union.
The Digital Agenda for Europe recognised the lack of harmonised policy framework as the source of the problem for not fully tapping into the potential of digital economy. Its main objective is to develop a Digital Single Market to fulfil the priorities of the EU 2020 strategy.
As defined by the Commission, Digital Single Market is “one in which the free movement of persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and engage in online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence”.
European ambitions to build the digital single market already led to concrete policies including the General Data Protection Regulation, the Regulation on cross-border portability of online content services and the Regulation addressing unjustified geo-blocking. And that’s only the beginning.
We expect three topics will increasingly draw policymakers’ attention:
Such trends promise intense discussions and will most probably be high on the European political agenda in the coming years. Yet, open questions remain and will certainly drive the political debates: Should legislation remain technology-neutral? Is the market self-sufficient and capable to regulate itself?
Whether you are in the digital business or intensely relying on digital technology and tools, Hague can help you keep a close eye on what’s coming next and get your voice heard at national and European levels.
(1) A micro-based index that measures the availability at firm level of 12 different digital technologies