Mr Eriksson mentioned that Commissioner Ansip asked Sweden to take on a leadership role in digital issues, especially as the strong commitment of Great Britain may end following Brexit. All the business representatives at the lunch welcomed and encouraged this idea, offering business support for greater Swedish commitment to the digital economy.
The minister was served a clear message regarding principally important issues for creating a data-driven European economy.
The digital infrastructure must be expanded to manage the new services made available through 5G and the Internet of Things. For this to become possible, it is important that a large portion of 700 MHz be auctioned publicly soon.
The digital market is borderless and a real European-wide market is needed for scale and growth opportunities. This requires harmonization rules at the EU level, not least in the fields of consumer rights and VAT regulations which are currently fragmented within the Single market and which causes companies to ignore markets in several Member States.
Swedish and European businesses need sound, competitive conditions that enable European companies to compete in global markets. Digitalization is being driven by global competition. EU competition law is an important tool to use when appropriate to ensure that businesses can compete on a level playing field.
The currently weak Single Digital Market suffers from fragmentation and heavy regulatory burdens. As a rule, legislation should only be introduced when there is a proven market failure. Rules must promote the ease of compliance, and should be technology-neutral to remain open for new solutions. An example of counter-productive legislation is special rules for internet platforms, since these are based on widely varying structures designed for a great variety of purposes. It is also important that EU Institutions refrain from promulgating regulations that overlap, leading to accumulation of red tape. The recently adopted EU Data Protection Regulation places strict requirements on businesses, which therefore speaks against the expected revision of the e-Privacy Directive further limiting businesses digital operations.
Finally, businesses need greater opportunity for innovation through access to and the use of data, critical for creating new products and services. With the rapid development in technology, it is highly important to differentiate between personal data and machine data. The business sector is concerned that many Member States impose barriers to data flows between countries through special national requirements for data storage. Everyday business activities are entirely dependent on their data flowing freely across borders, as they are on the free movement of products and services. Which is also why data flows must be included in free trade agreements which the EU is currently negotiating across the globe since it would facilitate trade between these countries and the EU.
Peter Eriksson indicated he is preparing a digitalization strategy for Sweden which will naturally be strongly linked to the EU strategy for the Single Digital Market. As shown here, national policy-makers also need to view digitalization in a global perspective.