Home Uncategorized European Commission Wants to Remove Geo-Blocking and Other “Digital Barriers”

European Commission Wants to Remove Geo-Blocking and Other “Digital Barriers”




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The European Commission is making a “Digital Single Market” a
priority in the European Union. The commission wants to
remove barriers that separate the EU, such as geo blocking and
complicated VAT taxes.

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Digital Single Market VP,
says: “Let us do away with all those fences and walls that
block us online. People must be able to freely go across
borders online just as they do offline.”

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The Commission will move forward by focusing on three areas:
access to digital goods and services, allowing digital networks
to flourish, and creating a digital economy with long-term
growth potential.

They’ve issued a release that details their plans. The next
step will be the release of a comprehensive strategy in May.


1. Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods
and services

  • Facilitating cross-border e-commerce,
    especially for SMEs, with harmonised consumer and contract
    rules and with more efficient and affordable parcel delivery.
    Today only 15% of consumers shop online from another EU
    country – which is not surprising, if the delivery charge
    ends up higher than the actual price of the product (see
    Factsheet for more figures).
  • Tackling geo-blocking: too many Europeans
    cannot use online services that are available in other EU
    countries, often without any justification; or they are
    re-routed to a local store with different prices. Such
    discrimination cannot exist in a Single Market.
  • Modernising copyright law to ensure the
    right balance between the interests of creators and those of
    users or consumers. It will improve people’s access to
    culture – and therefore support cultural diversity – while
    opening new opportunities for artists and content creators
    and ensuring a better enforcement of rights.
  • Simplifying VAT arrangements is important to
    boost the cross-border activities of businesses, especially
    SMEs. The cost and complexity of having to deal with foreign
    tax rules are a major problem for SMEs. The VAT-related costs
    due to different requirements are estimated at EUR 80

2. Shaping the environment for digital networks and services to

  • All digital services, applications and content depend on
    high-speed internet and secure networks: the lifeblood of new,
    innovative digital services. To encourage investment in
    , the Commission will therefore review
    the current telecoms and media rules to make them fit for new
    challenges, in particular relating to consumer uses (for
    example the increasing number of voice calls made over the
    internet) and new players in the field.
  • Spectrum is the air the internet breathes. Improving
    coordination among Member States is essential.

    Europe has witnessed significant delays in the roll-out of
    the latest 4G technology, as suitable spectrum was not
    available. Spectrum does not stop at national borders: a
    European approach to its management is needed to promote a
    genuine single market with pan-European services.
  • The Commission will look into the growing
    importance of online platforms
    (search engines, social
    media, app stores, etc.) for a thriving internet-enabled
    economy. This includes looking at how to strengthen trust in
    online services through more transparency, how to include them
    in the online value chain, and to facilitate the swift removal
    of illegal content.
  • Today, 72% of internet users in Europe are concerned about
    using online services because they worry that they have to
    reveal too much personal data online. The swift
    adoption of the Data Protection Regulation is key to boosting

3. Creating a European Digital Economy and Society with
long-term growth potential

  • Industry is a key pillar of the European economy – the EU
    manufacturing sector accounts for 2 million companies and 33
    million jobs. The Commission wants to help all
    industrial sectors integrate new technologies and manage the
    transition to a smart industrial system
  • Standards: ensuring interoperability for new
    technologies are essential for Europe’s competitiveness, they
    must be developed faster.
  • The Commission also wants industry and society to make the
    most of out of the data economy. Large amounts
    of data are produced every second, created by persons or
    generated by machines, such as sensors gathering climate
    information, satellite imagery, digital pictures and videos,
    purchase transaction records, or GPS signals. Big data is a
    goldmine, but it also raises important challenges, from
    ownership to data protection to standards. These need to be
    addressed to unlock its potential.
  • The same goes for cloud computing, the use
    of which is rapidly growing: the proportion of digital data
    stored in the cloud is projected to rise from 20% in 2013 to
    40% in 2020. While shared networks and resources can boost our
    economy, they also need the right framework to flourish and be
    used by more people, companies, organisations and public
    services across Europe.
  • Europeans should also be able to fully benefit from
    interoperable e-services, from e-government to
    e-health, and develop their digital skills to seize the
    opportunities of the internet and boost their chances of
    getting a job.


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