Quoted: on Europe’s plans for ‘digital single market’

“Instead of enhancing integration, the Commission would in effect be creating a digital fortress around Europe – a move that would have devastating consequences for Europe’s efforts to spur innovation and technology by its own companies.”

Dean Garfield, president of the Washington-based Information Technology Industry Council, on a European Commission proposal to create a “digital single market” by consolidating differing tech policies in countries across Europe. Among other things, it’s meant to help the European tech industry catch up with that of the United States.

The plan includes 16 initiatives, but a key part involves going after American tech companies. The EU is opening an antitrust investigation into the region’s e-commerce sector, which includes companies such as Amazon, according to the New York Times. As part of the plan, the EU would also step up scrutiny of other tech companies, such as looking into how Uber and Airbnb use customer data. Other concerns include competition in telecommunications, with Skype and WhatsApp rivaling services provided by European telecom companies.

The new initiatives come on top of the existing actions against and inquiries into U.S. tech companies’ practices, such as the antitrust charges the EU leveled against Google last month.

The plan is expected to provide a big boost to the European economy — officials estimate it would add hundreds of thousands of new jobs — but the Wall Street Journal points out that the proposal is a long way from being realized. The plan includes no new regulations, although it does call for them. And of course, European countries will then have to agree to them.

 

Photo: European Commissioner for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, left, and European Commissioner for Digital Economy Guenther Oettinger speak at a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. The EU on Wednesday announced a push to make the continent more relevant in the digital marketplace that’s dominated by U.S. companies. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

 

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