EU: Certain aspects of the EU Digital Single Market

As digital technology advances and the European integration intensifies, new legislative rules are being developed to regulate the European digital market. The European Commission has already started proposing legislative steps and measures which should enable the creation of the European Digital Single Market. Some of these steps and measures have already been taken, some are expected to be approved and implemented in the near future. 

In June 2017, roaming charges, which often significantly complicated the use of mobile telephone services abroad, were finally abolished in the EU. In May 2018, the notorious and omnipresent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect. The GDPR will naturally have a great impact on the internet and will also affect providers of online services, such as web shop operators, cloud solutions providers, online databases etc. Other plans of the European Union aim at free internet connection in public places.

One of the priorities of the new digital legislation is cross-border e-commerce. According to statistical data available, only under 10 % of small and medium-size businesses currently sell online to other states in the European Union. The European Commission has therefore decided to implement changes which should make cross-border e-commerce in the EU easier and more accessible, as there are now a number of impediments and regulatory barriers to the development of cross-border e-commerce, such as a complete ban on sales abroad, cards issued in another state not being accepted for online purchases, differential pricing for customers from different member states or charging unjustified fees for cross-border transport. This phenomenon, known as geo-blocking, is perceived negatively by the European Commission which would like to remove it completely. Geo-blocking is used as a tool preventing customers from placing orders in other states, unless permitted by the seller, or subjecting such orders to unfavourable conditions. This is in principle discriminatory against consumers. The planned EU regulation does not intend to force sellers to deliver goods to all EU member states, but to enable consumers from different member states to make purchases under the same conditions. Cross-border delivery shall also be cheaper as prices will be subjected to monitoring by a regulatory body. New tax packages will be introduced to amend tax conditions applying to cross-border e-commerce.

Modern infrastructure and fast communication networks will be essential for successful implementation of the digital single market. A coordinated approach to cyber-security will also be necessary.

It is expected that achieving these goals and creating a strong and functional digital market will contribute up to 400 billion euros a year to the EU budget.