Time for reflection - but also time to build the Digital Single Market

Source: A. (Andrus) Ansip i, published on Tuesday, August 2 2016.

So far this year in Europe, we have seen some tragic and tumultuous events. These have been difficult times on many different levels.

From the political standpoint in Brussels, following the result of UK referendum, EU leaders made it clear at their last meeting that neither Europe nor the European project are about to stop as a result.

Time for reflection, yes - but Europe is on track.

They also made it clear that the Digital Single Market (DSM) must be in place by the end of 2018 - in the context of a deeper and fairer European single market that will help to create new jobs, promote productivity and provide an attractive climate for investment and innovation.

For me, the DSM should not be seen as a series of regulations or packages of legal red tape. I see it as the blueprint for Europe's social, economic and industrial future.

It affects all our lives and the way that we do business. It opens up new opportunities, helping people and companies to get the best from the online world.

Digital issues are also firmly back on the global political agenda after a period of absence.

I saw this first-hand earlier this year at two major events: the G7 ICT meeting in Japan in April and again at the OECD ministerial meeting in Cancún in June.

These are clear signs of their socio-economic importance and political relevance - both for Europe, and also for a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected.

The tangible advantages of going digital can already be felt. Just take roaming surcharges. The plan is for these to end for good in mid-June 2017: good news for everyone in Europe, and I think we all need some good news at the moment.

We aim to finalise all remaining DSM initiatives by the end of 2016 - so this year is very much one of 'getting things done' for the DSM.

It is an ambitious timetable but the only feasible way for the DSM to be a reality on the ground by the end of the five-year term of this European Commission.

The longer we wait, the more people and businesses lose out.

We have presented several major DSM initiatives this year already. These include a strategy to turn European industry digital as far as possible, and to boost innovation in new growth areas: the data economy, Internet of Things and high-performance cloud computing.

We are also taking action to boost cross-border online trading across Europe.

In the autumn, we will move ahead with reforming EU copyright rules to make them fit for the digital age, and also review those governing the telecoms sector to get high-quality connectivity across all corners of Europe.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw some interesting figures from the World Economic Forum showing which countries are best prepared for the new digital economy, in what the WEF calls its Networked Readiness Index:


WEF Networked Readiness Index 2016

While five EU countries rank among the 10 most digital-savvy countries in the world, this is still only five. I think - I know - that we should be doing better.

And I know that we can: as we build the DSM that Europe urgently needs.

We need it up and running as soon as possible. It is what we are working actively towards. Another blog soon.