Cutting red tape essential for a functioning Single Digital Market

NEWS Published

OPINION Digitalisation enables faster growth and jobs creation. But the EU could miss this opportunity if the EU Commission Digital Single Market Strategy turns into a long list of demands on businesses, writes Carolina Brånby, Legal and Policy Advisor for Digitalisation at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Carolina Brånby bild 2014

Carolina Brånby

Europe can do better. With its Digital Single Market Strategy, the EU Commission want to ensure the EU can take full advantage of the benefits digitalisation can bring. This should provide the over 500 million consumers in the Union wider access to goods and services. This will promote entrepreneurship and innovation and thereby growth and jobs.

But on this one-year anniversary of the strategy's introduction, the question remains whether the EU 28, the European Parliament, and the EU Commission will be able to capture the greatest benefits of the digital economy. The new Data Protection Regulation to take effect May 2018 will bring significant costs and be difficult to live up to. As well, starting in October 2015, the EU has lacked a binding agreement with the USA covering personal data transfer, which represents a serious obstacle for trade relations and the global competitiveness of European businesses. As it stands, the EU Commission's Digital Single Market Strategy risks becoming a long list of demands on businesses. But shouldn't business and trade be helped by increasing the availability of goods and services?

Being able to utilize the enormous potential of information technology requires the free flow of data, and practical regulations for e-commerce of goods and services. Soon, over 70 percent of the world's population will have access to a smartphone. This digital access creates new possibilities for production, consumption, education, healthcare, and providing services.

But, digitalisation also involves certain challenges that must be addressed. The necessary digital infrastructure must be secure and fully developed for use by individuals and businesses. The regulatory framework must promote entrepreneurship, innovations, and consumer confidence in digital services. As an example, personal data protection must match the digital world that consumers want participate in. Companies need fair competition and copyright regulation that accommodates the interests of creators, rights holders and users. A basic consideration in this regard, for both individuals and small scale businesses operations in the sharing economy, is easily applied and technology neutral regulation.

This requires harmonisation in several area, including VAT and consumer laws. The current regulatory burden weighs heavily on the EU digital market, making it of little interest to most businesses. We believe that a quarter of all Swedish businesses sell their goods and services over the Internet. Of this, some eight percent conduct e-commerce with another country. Many companies are local and have no desire to grow internationally. But more harmonized regulations for cross-border trade would significantly facilitate for these businesses to step out and broaden their market reach.

The proposals currently discussed for the Digital Single Market Strategy appear to increase red-tape. VAT regulations, online sales, and prohibiting geo-blocking are legislative considerations within the strategy that appear complex and unclear. Differing rules are proposed for goods and services depending on whether these are sold on or offline. This differentiation fails to address modern, digitalized business. The market is not separated into one for digital content and one for physical goods. Many companies sell both. These companies use omnichannel sales, which involves selling to their customers through digital market platforms, their own websites, and physically in brick and mortar stores.

Information technology offers enormous possibilities for small businesses and large multinationals. Technological developments offer smarter, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper products. 500 million citizens of the EU would become a solid home market for European businesses. What is needed now, is for regulators and policy-makers to balance new legislation to ensure businesses can practically sell their goods and services in all the ways digital technology enables them. Cutting red-tape and limited legislative burdens are the foundation for a functioning Single Digital Market where consumers can benefit from a growing offering of goods and services.

Carolina Brånby, Legal and Policy Advisor for Digitalisation.

This article was originally published in Swedish 9 May 2016

News

NEWS Published:

Proposals for competitiveness

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in co-operation with its experts and membership organizations, has produced concrete proposals for measures to ensure that Europe will maintain its competitiveness in the global arena.
NEWS Published:

How EU-decisions affect Swedish companies

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has evaluated how the major decisions taken within the EU during the last mandate period affect Swedish companies. Our evaluation shows that 24 of the 57 legal acts we have chosen to look at have been positive for Swedish companies.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

EU 24 million small and mid-sized businesses are the greatest asset within EU. "Regulations must be dealt with to give SME-companies the opportunity to reach their full potential", says  Anna-Lena Bohm, chairman of BusinessEuropes SME:s and Entrepreneurship committee.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

BUSINESS There are 24 million small and mid-sized businesses, so called SME businesses, in Europe. These companies are a great – if not the greatest – asset when it comes to tackling todays economical and social challenges.
NEWS Published:

The Nordic countries need to block EU assault on tax veto

TAX For countries with a common currency and a limited common budget, it is particularly important to be able to pursue an active national fiscal policy when an external shock is encountered, writes Claes Hammarstedt.
NEWS Published:

Artificial intelligence on everybody’s mind

EVENT Artificial intelligence is on everybody’s mind in the EU capital. The European Commission recently launched its strategy for artificial intelligence, which focuses on promoting research and development of AI across European sectors.
NEWS Published:

AI made in EU

JOINT EFFORT The EU-commission has presented a joint effort with Member States to promote the development and use of artificial intelligence, AI, in Europe. To strengthen AI-technology and uptake in Europe is welcome. Swedish Enterprise believes that the conditions within Europe must be strengthened in order to successfully improve the global competitiveness of our companies. Here are our thoughts and proposals.
NEWS Published:

Swedish expert represents European industry in expert group on AI

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s digital expert Carolina Brånby is representing BusinessEurope in the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, AI HLEG. Their role is drafting ethical guidelines, and to create recommendations on how to strengthen the uptake of AI within the EU.
NEWS Published:

What impact of the Social Pillar on EU prosperity?

The EU’s approach to social policy is currently changing. In November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) was proclaimed as a visionary document setting up goals for an upward convergence in this area. In this year’s State of Union address, the president of the EU-commission Jean-Claude Juncker asserted that “It is time we turned the good intentions that we proclaimed at the Gothenburg Social Summit into law”. And, as a matter of fact, this process is well under way.
NEWS Published:

The entrepreneurial perspective is being neglected in the EU digitalisation process

The digital single market is a hot topic in the EU right now. Sweden has plenty of confidence when it comes to digitalisation, which does by its nature transcends all borders. The government’s overall goal is for Sweden to be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitalisation. But unfortunately the entrepreneurial perspective usually comes second when the European countries attempts to create a digital inner market.
NEWS Published:

American tariffs hurt Swedish and European industry

"President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is very unfortunate. It will hurt Swedish industry both directly and indirectly", says Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

The EU-commission wants to go big on AI

AI  The US and China are way ahead of Europe regarding development of autonomous computer systems. That disadvantage must change if European business and industry is to retain its competitive edge into the future, writes Olof Erixon, Senior legal counsel.
NEWS Published:

EU – the clearest voice for free trade

In the beginning of May, the Free Market Road Show (FMRS) took place in Stockholm. Jens Hedström, Head of Brussels Office, International Director, Swedish Enterprise, was one of the panellists together with PJ Anders Linder, CEO Axess Foundation, the British economist Richard Teather among others.
NEWS Published:

Sweden should oppose the digital tax proposals

TAXES The Swedish Government should oppose the controversial digital tax proposals from the EU Commission and work with the OECD to find an internationally acceptable solution.
NEWS Published:

Controversial EU tax proposal on digital services causes concern for small exporting economies

TAX The Director Generals for the Swedish, Danish and Finnish business federations have, in a joint letter addressed to the Finance Ministers of their respective countries, expressed their concern for the EU Commissions digital tax plan.
NEWS Published:

Protectionism only produces losers

The impact of globalisation has been positive for most of the world’s population. However, the economic integration of economies also accelerates change which puts increasing pressure on societies to be able to adapt to such change. We need to stand up for the clear advantages of globalisation, while making sure our societies have the flexibility necessary to adapt to rapid changes in technology and labor markets. These were the main conclusion at a seminar about free trade and globalization in times of protectionism, organized by The Society for Business and Politics in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Let’s talk about the losers of protectionism

European politicians have a big role to play in communicating why globalisation matters. We need politicians that are brave enough to talk about the losers of protectionism, not just the losers of globalisation, writes Carola Lemne.
NEWS Published:

The European Commission: Swedish companies best at innovation

Within the framework for the European Commission’s EU Industry Day February 22-23 in Brussels, Teknikföretagen and RISE was chosen to present how Swedish enterprise and academy cooperate around invention under the headline TESTBED Europe, accelerating innovation and strengthening eco-systems. The seminar proved to be one of the events most popular, and gathered experts from all over Europe. The participants all agreed that Sweden is the leading example of innovation, but why?
NEWS Published:

OECDs ambassadors meeting – act for growth and prosperity

January 19th marked the date for BIACs annual meeting with the ambassadors of OECD. This year’s theme was ”Business priorities for OECD action: a call for growth and prosperity” and tackled subjects like entrepreneurship, multilateral framework for trade, tax and investments, creating opportunities for business to create the jobs of the future and developing high quality regulation that strengthens businesses competitiveness. 
NEWS Published:

Trilogue negotiations – striking the right balance between transparency and efficiency

A trilogue is just what it sounds like – a dialogue between three parties. In a European context the three parties in question are the European parliament, the European Commission and the Council. There are advantages to these trilogues; it’s a quicker decision process which can be used ad hoc with the three most important parties present. But the opposition is growing against the increased frequency, particularly because of lack of transparency that trilogues entail.