Possible initiatives to realise more of the potential of the digital singlemarket

AuthorPetropoulos, Georgios; Marcus, J. Scott; Yeung, Timothy
Contributio n to Growth : European Digital Single Market: Deliverin g economic benefi ts to citizens and busin esses
PE 631.044 57
We see opportunities for a num be r of furthe r i nter venti ons in the com ing le gisl ative t erm. T he y
fall in three categories: (1) re-think ing the ove rall ap proach to t he Digit al Single Market goi ng
forward, (2) rounding out a nd compl eting the measure s enacte d during the c urrent legislative
ter m, and (3)
launching new initiatives to foster the digitisation of European business,
governm ent and soci ety .
As far as a re -thinking of the ap proac h, we offe r the fol lowi ng refl ecti ons:
For Single Market issues, a holistic view that integrates di gital a nd pre-di gital aspe cts
may b e in order; how ever, promoting the adoption and innovati on based on digital
technol ogy continue s to re quire a spe cial focus of its own.
The ultimate goal is the achievement of a dynamic EU economy that delivers a high
standard of livi ng to all, and that provide s attractive pri ces and choice s to consumers.
The Single Market, the competitiveness of the EU, and the productivity gains achieved
by digitisation are a means to achieving this end.
Despite the growing difficulty in distinguishing between products and services, more
focus on Single Market gains relating to services is needed during the next legislative
A more integrated view across the EU’s full range of policy tools is needed, including
industri al, re gulatory , comp etition, and trade pol icy. H owever , we cannot c om p r om is e
the independence, the integrity and the credibility of regulatory and competition
We have provided a rough subjective assessment of how the candidate initiatives that we have
ide ntified for the next legislative term differ from one another in terms of costs and benefits,
subsi diar ity c hallenge s, and mor e. We als o disti nguish b etwe en those that coul d b e act ed on
now, versus those where extensive study is needed to identify a way forward. The initiatives are:
Publ ic fundi ng for AI and r oboti cs;
Private funding for start-ups and scal e-ups;
Corpor ate taxat ion;
Traini ng;
Empl oyment and social prote ction;
E-governm ent;
Network and information security;
Cross-b order s ales of goods that require delivery;
Re-think the structure of the EU audio-visual sector;
Expand t he scop e of c onsume r prote cti on;
Further improve access regulation;
Lower c ross-border parcel delivery NPO prices;
Liab ili ty and ne w tec hnologie s;
Fake ne ws and inappro priate co ntent; and
Dete cti ng coll usio n.
IPOL | Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies
58 PE 631.044
In considering possible initiatives to realise more of the potential of the digital single market, we
reflect first on the overall approach going forward to the Digital Single Market (Secti on 5.1), then on
steps to round out or complete the measures enacted during the current legislative term (Section
5.2), and finally on new i niti ative s to foster the digitisation of Europ ean busine ss, gove rnme nt and
socie ty (Section 5.3). In Sec tion 5.4 , we close with a comparative assessment of the candidate
meas ures that we have put forward.
5.1. The overall approach to the Digital Single Market going forward
The pace of technological and market evolution in Europe has been rapid over the past five years. As
we app roach the next legislative te rm, i t is natural to consider to what extent the EU’s overall
approach to the DSM is ripe for re-thinking.
A 2018 Presidency discussion paper on the Future of the Single Market (Counc il of the Europ ean
Union, 2018b, also 2018c) provides a useful starting point for this discussion, but it surely will not
rep resent the end of the discussion (nor was it inte nded to). I f anything, the discussion pap er
demonstrates that i t is easier to m ake broad pronouncements than it is to reduce them to practical
policy measures.
Perhaps the most useful proposition put forward in the discussion paper is that there is no nee d for a
Digital Single Market but rather for a digitised Single Market.They go on to float the idea of the
appointment of a European Commission vice-president in charge of the Single Market in order to
guarantee a cross-cutting app roach.” (see also Li sbon Council , 201 8) In supp ort of this thought, we
would observe that referring to a Digital Single Market implies that ther e is a non-Digit al Sin gle
Market. Is this really the case today? All Single Market issues are to some degree digital, or ought to
The boundaries of the Digital Single Market have never been altogether clear, but we have argued
throughout that two m ain thr eads are vi sib le in the acti ons undert aken i n the cur rent l egi slati ve t erm:
(1) improved realisation of the benefits of the Single Market, and (2) the fostering of further
digitisation in the EU. For the forme r, the suggest ion that it is no longer he lpful t o think of a Dig ital
Single Market seems to be timely. For the latter, however, its very essence is the need to promote
innovati on b ased on digi tal te chnol ogies as the discussion paper itse lf argues, it “will b e cr ucial to
address the EU product ivity chal lenge by fully expl oiting the opportunities of the next digital tec h
In othe r words, for Single Market issues , a more ho list ic view that int egrates digital and pre-
digital aspect s may be in order; however, promoting the adoption and innovation based on
digital technology c ont inu es to require a special focus of its own.
The Single Marke t has take n on sym bolic si gnifi cance for EU p olicymakers, but it should not be
viewe d as a goal in and of i tsel f; rather i t is a m eans to an e nd. The discussion pape r speaks of shifti n g
the focus to EU competitiveness, but this is likewise a means to an end. The ultimate goal is the
achie vem ent of a dynam ic EU e conom y that de live rs a hi gh st andard of l ivi ng to al l, and that pr ovide s
attracti ve price s and choices to consumers. The Single Market seeks to contribute to this goal by
means of scal e ec onomie s and reduce d transacti on costs . The focus on digi tisati on contri butes to th e
same goal by driving increases in productivity, thereby enhancing EU competitiveness that
contributes to EU exports.
The discussion papers (Counci l of the European Union, 2018b and 2018c) also reflect on the
disti ncti on be tween p roducts and servi ces , right ly noti ng that the y ar e inc reas ingly inte rtwined.

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