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Towards a Digital Single Market


On 6 May 2015, the European Commission published the Communication on a Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe 1), unveiling its detailed plans to create the Digital Single Market, one of the ten priorities of the President-elect, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker. On 6 May 2015, the European Commission published the Communication on a Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe 1), unveiling its detailed plans to create the Digital Single Market, one of the ten priorities of the President-elect, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker.

 

The Strategy includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of 2016 and built on three pillars: (1) better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; (3) maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.

Objectives include a revision of copyright rules to reflect new technologies, and to make them simpler and clearer. In this regard, The Commission will make legislative proposals before the end of 2015 to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works by users across the EU, including through further harmonisation measures. This may be relevant for EAMBES members as this will very likely deal with the IPR of software, an area seen as fragmented and in need of policy attention.

Also of relevance is the fact that one of the key sectors foreseen under the Digital Single Market Strategy relates to eHealth and e-Care. The Commission defends the opportunities that digital technologies for health and care offer not only for citizens and health and care providers, but also for industry, “by combining  the high-tech, ICT, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and  healthcare sectors”2) and allowing e-health and e-care solutions to overcome the barriers that prevent them from benefiting from the large potential of the internal EU  market.

Within the second pillar, an integrated standardisation plan will be launched to identify and to define key priorities for interoperable standards, with a focus on essential sectors such as health. This would not only facilitate biomedical research, but the Commission expects improvements in interoperable ICT  solutions and European standards to lead to increased data security and integrity to underpin citizens’ confidence and trust in using  e-health and m-health solutions. The Commission will set up a strategic forum for Member States and European Standard organisations to jointly discuss common priorities.

As a next step, with the backing of the European Parliament and the Council, the Digital Single Market should be completed as soon as possible.

The Competitiveness Council of the European Union already had a first discussion on the digital single market strategy on 28 May 2015 and adopted Conclusions on the digital transformation of European industry 3). Ministers agreed that the strategy covers the most important issues for completing the digital single market and many referred to the importance of suitable copyright rules, interoperability, digital skills, increase the level of confidence and effective data protection rules. The Conclusions recognise the importance of the digital transformation also for the healthcare industry and the relevance of standards for the competitiveness of eHealth.

The outcome of the exchange of views and the conclusions will be taken into account in the discussions on digital single market policy planned at the European Council on 25-26 June 2015

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1) European Commission. 6 May 2015. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe. http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/docs/dsm-communication_en.pdf

2)  European Commission. 6 May 2015. Commission Staff Working Document. A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe  - Analysis and Evidence. http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/docs/dsm-swd_en.pdf

3)  Council of the European Union. Draft Council conclusions on the digital transformation of European industry. http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-8993-2015-INIT/en/pdf
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