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East Midlands Chamber News

Digital Single Market Moves a Step Closer

Plans to erase national barriers to online commerce across Europe have moved a step closer following the publication of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy.

The document sets out 16 key actions which the Commission has pledged to deliver before the end of 2016 to help reverse the fragmentation of internet shopping and other online services across Europe. They cover everything from ecommerce and broadband, courier and parcel delivery rates, telecommunications and copyright rules.

Under the plans, regulatory barriers would be torn down to enable the 28 national markets within the EU to merge into a single one.

The initiative would seek to introduce a uniform set of rules across the market to make cross-border ecommerce easier, leading to more efficient and affordable parcel deliveries and effectively ending ‘geo-blocking’ –a practice used by some online sellers to either deny customers access to their website based on their location, or re-route them to a local store with different prices.

It will also look to launch a European Cloud service.

The Commission believes that GDP output across the EU could be increased by €415bn (£308bn) a year if a harmonised digital market is established.

Jon Egley, eBusiness Club Manager at the East Midlands Chamber, (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “On the face of it, these proposals seem to be a sensible way of unlocking the online marketplace across Europe for firms of all sizes.

“The internet has opened up huge opportunities for businesses to get their products and services seen and sold around the world, yet many are prohibited from doing so by regional variations in the regulatory framework, which place barriers to trade in certain countries which don’t exist in others.

“Anything which can be done to address this and make it easier for firms to sell to the widest possible market should be welcomed.”

Laura Howard, the Chamber’s Head of International Trade, added: “The Government has set the business community some really aspirational, but highly challenging, export targets to achieve by 2020 and the only way they will be met is if more firms start exporting.

“International trade is no longer the domain of only heavy goods. There is a growing number of products and service items that can be sold internationally through these new and emerging channels that the internet can provide.

“As such, anything which can be done to break down any unnecessary barriers and make it easier to sell to other countries – either in Europe or beyond –has to be seen as a good thing.”