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Digital single market - Boosting growth and competitiveness

Information society 25-05-2016 - 14:31 / Updated: 20-09-2016 - 17:03

The strategy for a digital single market should help to foster innovation and cut red tape for start-ups, but also ensure consumer choice and protection, according to MEPs. The European Parliament has responded to the strategy proposed by the European Commission in 2015 with an own-initiative report. The report will feed into the upcoming legislative proposals, which can’t enter into force without the Parliament’s approval. (Read more: Laying the groundwork for a digital single market)

The internet is meant to give you unlimited access to knowledge, yet when you are shopping online, you could be prevented from purchasing a product or service because of where you live. The European Commission has proposed new rules to make an end to the unjustified use of the practice known as geo-blocking as well as ways to create a genuine digital single market in Europe. MEPs debated the plans in plenary on 25 May. (Read more: Breaking down barriers: giving consumers equal access to online products)

Geo-blocking consumers’ online access to goods and services on the basis of their IP address, postal address or the country of issue of credit cards is unjustified and it must stop, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs want Europe to seize the opportunities opened up by new technologies, such as Big Data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things or 3D-printing, and to have an innovation-friendly policy towards online platforms. (Read more: Stop geo-blocking and boost e-commerce and digital innovation, says Parliament)

Net neutrality is crucial to the future development of the internet. It is the principle that all online traffic should be treated equally, regardless of the type of content or platforms involved. On 27 October MEPs are set to debate and vote on new rules on net neutrality, following an agreement reached with EU governments after two years of negotiations. Ahead of the vote, find out what it is all about. (Read more: Net neutrality: four things to know about new rules being voted on)

Should people have the right to create and share images and photographs of public buildings without having to compensate for the use of copyright? The so-called freedom of panorama already exists in some EU countries, but MEPs are now considering whether it should be extended to all member states. As they will debate it on 9 July, we asked two MEPs on opposing sides of the issue why they think it would be a good or a bad thing. (Read more: Debate: should the freedom of panorama be introduced all over the EU?)

The end of roaming charges could become a reality in just two years' time. Parliament's industry committee approved on Wednesday a deal to end roaming charged that had been agreed with EU governments and the European Commission. Prices should drop next year, while from 15 June 2017 making a call or watching a football match live on a mobile phone abroad would cost the same as doing so at home. Read on for more details. (Read more: All you need to know about the end of roaming charges)

From tomorrow, surcharges for phone calls and data usage when you’re in another EU country are capped even further, while from 15 June 2017 using your mobile phone abroad should cost the same as doing so at home. As of tomorrow non-discriminatory net neutrality rules also enter into force. Read on for more details. (Read more: Dialling it down: one step closer to abolition of roaming charges)

A complete ban on roaming charges for using mobile phones abroad in the EU will take effect in June 2017 and clear rules on the right to internet access will become law following Parliament's final approval of the new telecoms package on Tuesday. (Read more: End in sight for mobile phone “roaming” fees and unequal internet access)

Every day 315 million Europeans use the internet, but challenges still remain for consumers and companies alike. The European Commission presented its strategy for a digital single market in 2015. In addition Parliament and the Council agreed to ban roaming fees in 2017 and guarantee equal treatment for all internet traffic. On 25 May MEPs debate new Commission proposals to further boost e-commerce in plenary. Read our digital glossary to get up to date with the terminology ahead of the debate. (Read more: From geo-blocking to cloud computing: Parliament’s guide to the digital age)

Online companies should not be allowed to abuse their dominant position even if this means unbundling search engines from other commercial services, Parliament said with a non-binding resolution it voted on last week. We discussed it with two MEPs who are behind the resolution: German EPP member Andreas Schwab and Ramon Tremosa, an ALDE member from Spain. (Read more: MEPs Schwab and Tremosa on separating internet search engines from commercial activities)

Could creating a digital single market in the EU and removing barriers online help give a boost to European companies? The European Commission outlined its strategy on 6 May, while it will also feature on the agenda of the European Council on 25-26 June. Meanwhile the Parliament is planning to respond with an own-initiative report on the digital market. They debated the issue on 19 May, during which MEPs highlighted the challenges and potential benefits involved. (Read more: Digital single market: creating opportunities for European companies)

Electronic communication in Europe could become significantly cheaper and more efficient, under rules to be voted on by MEPs on 3 April. Internet providers would no longer be able to block or slow down internet services provided by their competitors and "roaming charges" for using your phone in another EU country would be abolished starting from 15 December 2015. To find out more about how it will affect you, read our Q&A. (Read more: Connecting the continent: how Parliament could make electronic communication much easier)

REF. : 20150625TST70823
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