On 19 March, GSMA Europe hosted a Mobile Meetings Series that focused on the steps taken during this term and the future of the Digital Single Market (DSM) following the elections to the European Parliament (EP) in May 2019. The event explored the development of the DSM since 2014, the remaining challenges, and finally, the role of the next EP and the other European Institutions in completing the DSM. During the event, the GSMA presented its Mobile Manifesto for Europe, highlighting the key areas to focus on during the next legislature.
In 2014, the European Commission (EC) identified the development of a connected DSM as one of its ten key priorities. The EU Institutions, Member States (MS) and industry have since delivered many of the objectives set out in the Digital Market Strategy for Europe, notably the General Data Protection Regulation, the revised European Electronic Communications Code and the Cybersecurity Act.
Digital technologies have already profoundly impacted various industries, and it has become clear, that while the ongoing digital transformation of the EU economy and society presents enormous growth potential for Europe, it also poses strategic challenges and raises new legal and regulatory questions that require coherent public policy responses. As the pace in which digital technologies transform society accelerates, it is up to decision-makers to ensure not just growth, but also that the transformation benefits society as a whole. This challenge has been included in multiple manifestos of European political groups which, ahead of the European elections, address how to improve access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services, and how to promote digital skills and gender equality in the tech industry.
During the MMS, participants discussed the accomplishments of the EP during its 2014-2019 mandate. They welcomed the political agreements reached on new rules for online platforms, aiming to increase transparency and fairness, the newly adopted telecom rules and the progress made in the areas of cybersecurity and data protection. Participants however, recognized that the DSM is still ‘under construction’, and identified improving digital literacy, the regulation of both the data economy and online platforms as tasks that will be high on the next EP’s agenda.
They also underlined that one of the biggest challenges lies in balancing consumer protection and economic growth: on the one hand the regulatory environment must ensure the creation of an online environment in which citizens are protected and where fair market conditions are guaranteed, and on the other where businesses are left enough room to grow and innovate. The examination of market power has become more challenging because of the increasing role of data making a review of EU competition tools necessary. Common rules and principles grounded in a flexible and adaptive regulatory model are furthermore needed. This approach would not only give the EU a competitive advantage globally but would also allow for the flexibility needed to stimulate innovation. In this respect, participants agreed that for legislation to be future proof, it must be technology neutral.
Trust will also play an essential role in encouraging consumers and industry to take up, exploit and thus benefit from the latest technical advances such as Artificial Intelligence, 5G and the Internet of Things. It is agreed that swift implementation of the adopted legislation by the MSs, together with robust enforcement by national governments and the EU institutions will help establish such trust. The group also stressed the importance of involving SMEs and start-ups across Europe in debates, consultations and other activities that will help shape the DSM. In this context, some participants specifically referred to the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, which will allow for investments in new technologies and the strengthening of digital skills among Europe’s workforce.
Participants finally agreed that the extent to which consumers and industry will fully reap the benefits of the digital economy now depends on MS implementation and robust enforcement. Since 2014 however, the EU Institutions have significantly advanced the DSM. Consumers and industry are more aware of the available digital services and their rights online, but also enjoy a high level of legal certainty.
Hosted in our offices, the Mobile Meetings Series are small scale – but big scope – invitation only events for the Brussels public policy audience.
Join us for a different take on the main issues affecting the mobile communications industry and its place in Europe’s information society.