Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe

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Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe, COM(2015) 192 final, 06.05.2015

Type Paper
Legal context EU
Abstract
Link http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/docs/dsm-communication_en.pdf
Topics Competition, Data Protection, Data Usability, Technology, Interoperability

Notes

Competition

"The Digital Single Market must be built on reliable, trustworthy, high-speed, affordable networks and services that safeguard consumers' fundamental rights to privacy and personal data protection while also encouraging innovation. This requires a strong, competitive and dynamic telecoms sector to carry out the necessary investments, to exploit innovations such as Cloud computing, Big Data tools or the Internet of Things. The market power of some online platforms potentially raises concerns, particularly in relation to the most powerful platforms whose importance for other market participants is becoming increasingly critical" (p. 9).

"Telecoms operators compete with services which are increasingly used by end-users as substitutes for traditional electronic communications services such as voice telephony, but which are not subject to the same regulatory regime. The review of the telecoms rules will look at ways of ensuring a level playing field for players to the extent that they provide competing services and also of meeting the long term connectivity needs of the EU " (p. 10). See also On Rights and Competition. Citizen’s Rights and Business’ Rights in a Progressively More Immaterial World.

"Although their impact depends on the types of platform concerned and their market power, some platforms can control access to online markets and can exercise significant influence over how various players in the market are remunerated. This has led to a number of concerns over the growing market power of some platforms. These include a lack of transparency as to how they use the information they acquire, their strong bargaining power compared to that of their clients, which may be reflected in their terms and conditions (particularly for SMEs), promotion of their own services to the disadvantage of competitors, and non-transparent pricing policies, or restrictions on pricing and sale conditions " (p. 11).

Data Usability

"Big data, cloud services and the Internet of Things are central to the EU’s competitiveness. Data is often considered as a catalyst for economic growth, innovation and digitisation across all economic sectors, particularly for SMEs (and start-ups) and for society as a whole" (p. 14).

"The lack of open and interoperable systems and services and of data portability between services represents another barrier for the cross-border flow of data and the development of new services (...)" (p. 14).

"(C)ontracts often exclude, or severely limit, the contractual liability of the cloud provider if the data is no longer available or is unusable, or they make it difficult to terminate the contract. This means that the data is effectively not portable" (p. 14).

Standardisation and Interoperability

"In the digital economy, interoperability means ensuring effective communication between digital components like devices, networks or data repositories. It also means connecting better along the supply chain or between industry and services sectors" (p. 15).

" Today, there is a common understanding among Member States on the basic requirements to achieve interoperability, based on the "European Interoperability Framework" put forward by the Commission in 2010. This framework should now be updated and extended" (p. 15).

"Currently, industry stakeholders decide 'bottom-up' in which areas to develop standards and this is increasingly taking place outside of Europe, undermining our long-term competitiveness. We need to define missing technological standards that are essential for supporting the digitisation of our industrial and services sectors (e.g. Internet of Things, cybersecurity, big data and cloud computing) and mandating standardisation bodies for fast delivery. In the digital economy, standard essential patents (standards that are based on patents as proprietary rights ) are an increasingly important feature in standardisation and an important element of the business model for many industries in terms of monetising their investment in research and innovation. The Commission advocates the need for a balanced framework for negotiations between right holders and implementers of standard essential patents in order to ensure fair licensing conditions. Moreover, availability of standards is often not sufficient to ensure interoperability, if existing standards are not integrate d by suppliers in their solutions. Public procurement plays an important role in promoting standards and Member States have created national catalogues of ICT-standards and interoperability specifications to guide public procurers and accelerate standards adoption on national markets. Integrating these catalogues into European catalogues would avoid market fragmentation at EU level" (p. 15).