The European Digital Single Market: achievements and challenges for Europe

A few years ago, the European Union, understood the importance of digitization within the economic structure, that’s why the strategy for the Digital Single Market began. This long-term plan has already had several successes that have had a direct and positive impact on businesses and citizens, although there is still a way to go and challenges […]

A few years ago, the European Union, understood the importance of digitization within the economic structure, that’s why the strategy for the Digital Single Market began. This long-term plan has already had several successes that have had a direct and positive impact on businesses and citizens, although there is still a way to go and challenges to face. Let’s see what have these achievements been and what challenges lie ahead.

The commitment to going digital is not only taking place in companies in the private area. The European Union, as a change promoter, decided to support this necessary evolution in 2015, when the European Commission proposed the Strategy for the Digital Single Market, setting the foundations of a united and sustainable digital European society.

The Digital Single Market in the European Union was created 25 years ago with the aim of improving the lives of citizens and businesses, thus breaking down barriers to the movement of people, goods and services. This got an improvement of 25% in the economy and created millions of jobs.

After the consolidation of this Market, the next step was to design the strategy to achieve the Digital Single Market that is in accordance with the times and the technology at our disposition.

Why is this evolution of the Digital Single Market so necessary?

In the first place, 90% of the jobs will require digital skills in a short time and 65% of the children who are now going to school will perform jobs that are not yet known.

Small businesses could have saved € 9,000 for each market due to the legal and translation costs of not having national laws harmonized by the European Union. In addition, consumers also enjoy great savings (more than 11 billion euros) when they make their purchases online. However, only 7% of small and medium companies sell online to another EU country.

Current studies indicate that only 59% of European citizens have access to networks with 4G connection and 52% of international purchases are blocked due to the lack of a unified digital market.

Carrying out the removal of the location obstacles would have an annual increase in EU GDP of 8,000 million euros and having a Digital Single Market fully working would mean a 415,000 million euros injection each year into the EU economy and the possibility of becoming the world’s digital leader.

With all these considerations and the great potential for growth for the European Union, the Strategy for the Digital Single Market was started in 2015, based on three pillars: access to all online products and services, improvement of the conditions of services and digital networks and, ultimately, the growth of the European digital economy.

Digital Single Market Achievements

The new General Data Protection Regulation, which is already mandatory for all the countries of the European Union, was approved in 2016 as part of the adaptation to the rapid technological evolution in the circulation and exchange of personal data.

Geographical blocking refers to the discriminatory practice that makes it difficult to customers from accessing certain online products and services from a website hosted in another State Member. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest and most obvious obstacles in the European Union.

The Council adopted a regulation prohibiting unjustified geographical blockade, i.e. blocking is no longer allowed on grounds of nationality, place of residence or place of establishment of customers.

The end of roaming charges within the European Union was “one of the greatest and most tangible achievements” in the Digital Single Market. From 2017, any EU citizen traveling to a country member other than their own will not have their telephone bill increased by making calls or using their mobile connection.

In October 2017, a historic event took place, in which for the first time a document was electronically signed, establishing the path that companies and public administrations will follow in the future.
This does not mean that it is a revolutionary practice, since for a long time many companies offer solutions such as Viafirma Platform eSigning documents, mainly due to the great amount of advantages it offers.

The qualified electronic signature has the same validity as a traditional handwritten signature and helps save money and time, protect the environment and increase productivity. In addition, it guarantees authenticity, protects against identity theft, eliminates the risks of loss and destruction and is legally binding. If the electronic signature were used in a general way in the EU, it would save up to 2% of its GDP per year.

Future challenges

During the Digital Summit that took place last year in Tallinn, the European Council met to continue advancing towards the Digital Single Market and take advantage of the opportunities provided by digitization, in addition to facing the challenges that still remain. This meeting ended with these priorities, which mark the guidelines of the future:

– Achieve a complete transition of the Administrations and public services to digital management, creating an example of how it should be done.
– Conclude the Strategy for the Digital Single Market to achieve a definitive regulatory framework.
– Build an infrastructure and a communications network of the first order, which requires international cooperation for the implementation of fixed and mobile very high speed (5G) networks and coordinate increase the available spectrum.
– Adopt a common vision of cybersecurity, guaranteeing proactive trust and security, providing adequate certifications in this regard and increasing the capacity to prevent, talk out, detect and respond to cyber attacks
– Increase efforts to fight against terrorism and online crime.
– Obtain labor markets and education and training systems that are adapted to the needs of the digital era.
– Make an effort in research and development and investment, supporting new forms of entrepreneurship and stimulating the digital transformation of industries and services.
– Adopt an effective and fair tax system, adapted to the digital era, guaranteeing equal conditions in all countries.

During the few years of the Strategy for the Digital Single Market, a series of very important achievements have already been achieved, which have benefited both companies and citizens. Continue on this path is very important to get this market is a complete and functional reality.