13 Jul 2015

DIGITALEUROPE contribution to the EU Trade Strategy - Towards an ambitious Digital Trade Policy

DIGITALEUROPE contribution to the EU Trade Strategy - Towards an ambitious Digital Trade Policy

On May 6, the European Commission (EC) released a communication for a Digital Single Market Strategy (DSM) for Europe (COM (2015) 192 final), including a strong international dimension. As stated in the DSM communication, the Internet and digital technologies are transforming our world. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has become more than a specific sector, it is now a key driver for innovation, growth and job creation in almost all sectors of the economy, and an enabler for societal wellbeing and individual empowerment.

A « Go digital » strategy de facto supports the « Go global » approach. An ambitious digital trade and investment policy will allow the European Union to be a front runner on the international scene. According to a recent survey led by Accenture, 96% of business leaders say digital technologies are important or critical to boost EU competitiveness, 93% for economic growth and 75% for EU job creation. An OECD study on “The Internet Economy on the Rise” reported that with nearly 1 billion broadband subscriptions in the OECD area, the Internet has now transformed from a useful platform to be an essential and multidimensional infrastructure that needs to be kept open and decentralized in order to enable communication, collaboration, innovation, inclusive participation and economic growth. In addition, trade in digital products and services is growing, and digital technologies are becoming enablers for trade of other goods and services. Finally, global markets provide tremendous business opportunities for the European ICT industry with global sales estimated at over 2.5 trillion Euro.

EU exports of digitally deliverable services to the world increased from EUR 415 billion to EUR 667 billion in 2012, representing 24,8% of total EU exports. Therefore, restrictions to digital trade hamper economic growth, employment and new business models in the global digital economy. Existing barriers in the European Union (EU) and outside our borders mean citizens miss out on goods and services, internet companies and start-ups have their horizons limited, and businesses and governments cannot fully benefit from digital tools.

We very much hope the future EU Trade Strategy for Growth and Jobs will build on the recommendations of the DSM Communication highlighted in the “international dimension” section and set up principles to promote and foster digital trade as a horizontal matter to the benefit of the whole EU industry and society.

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