Joint statement by Finland and France on the deepening of the digital market

Joint statement by Finland and France on the deepening of the digital market on 2 October 2012


Digital Single Market – Next Steps

1. It was clearly recognised in the Compact for Growth and Jobs by the EU Heads of State and Government in June 2012, that deepening the Single Market by removing unnecessary remaining barriers will be a key factor in promoting growth and jobs in Europe.

Europe is in real need of new sources of growth. It can be argued that the creation of a well-functioning Digital Single Market by 2015 is not only one of the most promising sources of growth but also a “low hanging fruit”, an area where much can be achieved without huge sacrifice and cost.

2. A Digital Single Market is a broad concept. The Digital Single Market is along with the development of attractive and innovative contents a crucial building block for a digital economy, currently absent in many ways on the European scale. According to the Commission, the potential in Europe is over 4% of GDP by the year 2020. This means about € 500 billion. A significant reason for Europe’s failure in this innovation driven high value-added growth market is the fact that Europe still does not currently benefit from a Digital Single Market.

Our aim should be to create the conditions for the production of high value added services in Europe.

The digital single market should encompass all trade in physical goods, services and electronic content via electronic channels. With this framework, European companies can rely on a strong and attractive home market and will be able to compete on the global market.

3. The single market legislation, and all other pertaining European policies, have already evolved since 2000 but must still be reinforced to develop cross-border offer of online products and services for consumers and businesses.

Priority should be given to measures aimed at further developing cross-border online trade and building a vibrant European digital economy. These measures include facilitating the transition to e-invoicing, and promoting the cross-border use of e-identification and other e-services and boosting innovation and creativity. It is also crucial to boost demand for the roll-out of high-speed internet and to ensure adequate coverage in terms of broadband infrastructure networks.

4. It is necessary to examine the conditions enabling Europe’s copyright regime to ensure fully a high level of protection of intellectual property rights and to contribute to creativity and cultural diversity, while making access to creative content easier. In this context, the following issues should be swiftly addressed:

- promoting balanced and effective licensing mechanisms throughout the single market, while fostering interoperability of services and devices;
- ensuring effective IPR enforcement in the digital environment;
- considering options to increase the contribution of the digital economy to measures supporting creativity and cultural diversity;
- developing innovative business models to promote legal offer.

In this context, internet piracy and counterfeiting remain a concern for the digital economy.In the perspective of promoting legal cross-border offer, we need a thorough discussion on the measures needed in order to win support for joint and effective measures which are necessary for protecting the creation of digital content.

The Commission has already proposed legislation in some of these areas. This is a good start. At the moment, political will is crucial to create the momentum needed to make swift progress in completing the negotiations on the proposals of the Commission, maintaining and improving their level of ambition.

At the same time, we must not pretend that the measures underway are sufficient to bring about the benefits of a genuine Digital Single Market. The Commission should continue to propose measures in order to develop the digital economy and propose solutions to the problems behind low levels of cross-border digital trade.

5. In order to boost production in Europe, further work is needed :

- in developing all aspects of well-functioning cross-border online payment and shipping systems ;

- in promoting further improvement of the tax framework and in particular of VAT systems, especially in order to address the challenge of convergence between on-line and physical environments and to avoid competition distortions and tax evasion ;
- in promoting a genuine european strategy in the field of the digital economy, in particular by developing a comprehensive EU-strategy on cloud computing ;
-in enhancing support to digital innovation and its transformation into marketable and interoperable applications;
- in promoting clusters of innovative SMEs operating in the digital sector and stimulating start-up companies including via public procurement and appropriate EU funding.

Reuse of public sector information and promotion of eGovernment also call for lot of additional efforts. At the same time, non-legislative barriers like lack of trust and educational needs of populations should be addressed to realize the potential of the digital economy.