eco on the Inauguration of the New EU Commission: “As a Digital Location, Europe Needs a Visionary Agenda”

  • 100-day digital goal: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Services Act & Digital Tax
  • eco’s core requirements for modern digital policy-making in Europe

Following on from Ursula von der Leyen’s election by the European Parliament as the future President of the European Commission in July 2019, the new EU Commission will now also start its work on 1 December.

“The European Commission now has the key task of shaping a rigorous digital policy for the digital future of us all, and of making Europe a more dynamic digital location on the basis of a visionary digital agenda. We should concentrate on our strengths, rather than forging political decisions which are centered on defensive battles against international digital companies,” says eco Chair of the Board Oliver J. Süme. “Digitalization can underwrite success in Europe, but only if the EU recognizes its opportunities and systematically develops these into a locational and competitive advantage. Here, the German Council Presidency will also play a central role in the second half of 2020,” Süme continues.

100 day digital goal: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Services Act & Digital Tax

Within the first 100 days, the Commission already intends to launch the first measures on artificial intelligence. More financial support will go in the direction of artificial intelligence, and legislation is to be proposed which takes a European approach to the ethical aspects of AI. In addition, the President of the Commission – in all likelihood in cooperation with her new Digital Commissioner Margrethe Vestager – wants to tax large digital concerns, renew the e-Commerce Directive, and establish a “cyber unit” to accelerate the exchange of information in the EU.

These plans demonstrate a recognition of the urgency surrounding many digital issues of the future, but the Association of the Internet Industry also identifies major challenges associated with the up-and-coming European digital policy: “In the coming years, digitalization and the development of key technologies such as artificial intelligence or blockchain will advance at an increasingly rapid pace, which will also up the ante in terms of legislative challenges,” says Süme. “That’s why it is absolutely essential that political decisions are made with foresight and with an invested confidence in innovation and digitalization – but please don’t let us see gung-ho uncoordinated decisions being made within a period of 100 days.”

In this regard, eco is closely monitoring the current efforts to regulate online platforms as the primary focus of the EU Commission’s planned Digital Services Act. Oliver J. Süme: “The Digital Services Act must offer market participants a reliable and balanced liability framework. The concept of the e-Commerce Directive, which entails a fundamental liability privilege for the content of third parties, is a cornerstone of the Internet industry’s development and must be maintained at all costs.”

The future EU Commission should also work towards a standardized taxation system – one which extends beyond the borders of Europe. In light of the fact that work is already underway at OECD level on a solution for how digital business models should be treated in terms of company taxation, the Association of the Internet Industry urges that unilateral European initiatives should be postponed until clarification has been reached.

When it comes to regulating European data protection, the evaluation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is on the agenda alongside the ePrivacy Regulation, the latter which has been under negotiation for three years. eco sees this as an opportunity to finally resolve the stalemate discussions: “The new Commission can cut through the Gordian knot and submit a new ePrivacy proposal that harmonizes in a better way with the existing GDPR and the EECC Telecommunications Code regulations,” says Süme. We must also not lose sight of citizens’ rights. Plans such as the proposed regulation on cross-border access to electronic evidence (e-Evidence) or the never-ending debate on blanket data retention stand in sharp contrast to the strict rules to which companies are to be subjected.

eco core requirements for a modern digital policy in Europe

In order to make optimum use of the opportunities and potential of digital transformation for a common European Digital Single Market and Europe as a business location, we need the establishment of appropriate framework conditions and central political paths for change. To this end, Europe requires a comprehensive Digital Agenda. In an EU Agenda containing the 19 core policy demands of the Internet industry, eco has summarized the most important topics and fields of action of the European Internet industry.

The detailed version of eco’s 19 core digital policy demands is available online here.

eco on the Inauguration of the New EU Commission: “As a Digital Location, Europe Needs a Visionary Agenda”