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The EU Digital market half way through Junker’s term


Guest blog by Leidar’s Senior EU Digital Market Expert, Marie-Laure Lulé.

Horizon 2020, TV-like services and revenue streams:

€6bn activated in 2015 for digital infrastructure

While security and refugee related issues dominate EU headlines, the Juncker Commission is approaching its mid-term. The EC’s Digital Agenda priorities, which will be benchmarked in the coming months, are:
  • fostering the EU digital market, concentrating on electronic communications
  • copyright and data protection
  • reviewing the Audiovisual and Media Services Directive
  • application of the Competition Law

The Commission’s final objective is to ensure that the so-called consu-viewers can access services, music, movies and sports coverage on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe, regardless of borders. The Dutch EU Presidency, together with Slovakia and Malta in the ‘Presidency Trio’, declared that “boosting the digital economy and encouraging innovation are top priorities”. The Presidency wishes to improve cross-border e-commerce and the free flow of data, modernise copyright and simplify VAT.  It will also focus on the Digital Single Market, specifically copyright and online contracts, and strengthening the implementation of the Services Directive at national levels.

Monitoring tenders and building consortiums to mobilise EU funds

By creating a connected digital single market, the EC expects the public and private sectors to generate up to €250bn of additional growth in Europe during the next three years. This should go hand-in-hand with the EU’s efforts to boost digital skills and learning across society, and to facilitate the creation of innovative start-ups. Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services is to become a horizontal policy, covering all segments of economy and of the public sector.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), activated in June 2015, just released its figures for the first time. In 2015, ten percent of the approved funds – approximately €6bn – relate to digital infrastructure.

The €80bn EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) is this year issuing ICT calls for companies to receive funding via consortiums. Together, local authorities and project promoters can now also benefit from the combination of the European Structural Funds and Investment Funds (ESI) with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). So, monitoring tenders and building consortiums or alliances needs to be at the top of mind for business leaders in order to access EU funds.

Online contracts and digital content – EU Directives impacting consumers and businesses

Alongside the abolition of end-user roaming charges by June 2017 and the increasing mobility of Europeans, the EC has to set the regulatory framework for many aspects of the Single Digital Market. Following wide consultations late in 2015, the Commission has now issued two proposed directives on online contracts and a regulation on portability of digital content, as well as a communication on the modernisation of copyright.

  • Online contracts: fostering EU contractual rights for consumers, and remedies concerning online shopping for goods and digital content
  • Portability: allowing EU residents to travel with the digital content they have purchased or subscribed to at home, ensuring users have access to their games, films and music as if they were at home

Furthermore, in its Copyright Communication “Making copyright rules fit for the digital age”, the EC addresses copyright exceptions, fair remuneration issues, the fight against piracy, and the right of retention.

In a nutshell, the Juncker Commission is well underway to accomplishing its ambitious priority agenda. The private sector has to embark on a proactive approach to its monitoring and engagement strategy in order to influence the regulatory process and to mobilise a fair share of the multi-billion EC budgets.

Corporate advocacy experts need to:
  • Establish monitoring systems of all relevant EC online tender platforms
  • Identify new partners and stakeholders building consortiums or agree on sub-contracting
  • Adjust their messaging, facts and stories so that all stakeholders and customers can follow and understand their corporate digital strategy based on the evolving regulatory framework
  • Update their digital communications platforms and reporting tools according to EU agenda
  • Engage in an ongoing dialogue and an operational commitment with EU stakeholders and customers to influence the EU’s digital agenda

Irrespective of the ultimate strategic approach taken by an individual company one aspect remains a given: digital convergence has fundamentally changed how corporations operate, profile themselves and communicate vis-a-vis their EU partners.

Rolf Olsen

CEO, based in Geneva

Rolf Olsen launched Leidar in 2010 and continues to lead the company as CEO.  He advises clients on strategy and narrative development; crisis management; and complex reputational issues on a global scale.

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