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To: EURIM Members
From: Edward Phelps, Secretary General

Driving the Digital Single Market

Malcolm Harbour MEP chaired a meeting of members of the European Internet Foundation and of the Information Society Alliance - EURIM on Monday 23rd January at the House of Lords to identify their concerns, priorities and willingness to work together with regard to the many and varied proposals and directives intended to foster a globally competitive Digital Single Market.

It was agreed to organise a follow up working group on the theme of “Driving the Digital Single Market”, for which Malcolm Harbour MEP would be the political chairman. This would have three sub-groups. Please let me know if you would be interested in helping lead, or in joining, a work group to scrutinise EU initiatives and look at forward policy in any of the below areas to eurim@eurim.org.


1. Data Protection

This will begin with scrutiny of the EC Communication of 25 January 2012 to the EU ‘Safeguarding Privacy in a Connected World; A European Data Protection Framework for the 21st Century’. The Communication proposes a comprehensive reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules. However, for such scrutiny to be meaningful and successful, it will also need to consider the various initiatives for data retention, sharing and access (for purposes related to regulation, law enforcement, consumer protection and public service delivery) as well as for data protection and information assurance.

The Ministry of Justice this week asked for submissions on the European Commission’s data protection proposals from 7 February until 6 March. Please see: http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/data-protection-proposals-cfe.htm.

This sub-group would be run in co-operation with the EURIM Information and Identity Governance scrutiny panel and meet in both London and Brussels.


2. Tax, VAT, Consumer Protection, Security, Payment and Disputes Resolution:

Problems in these areas are said to be the main obstacle to intra-EU cross-border trade and there are a variety of overlapping initiatives in this area of interest to On-line Retailers, Telcos, ISPs, Banking and Finance. There is a need to put these in perspective and join up scrutiny, especially with regard to the inter-actions between them. In this context responses have been invited by 11 April 2012 to the Green Paper ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ and more information is available at
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/cim/index_en.htm.

This group should be organised in co-operation with groups like the UK Payments council and those concerned to address the reasons why small firms are so reluctant to trade across EU boundaries.


3. Legal Frameworks, Consumer Rights, IPR/copyright

Issues to do with legal frameworks, the e-Commerce directive, consumer rights and common sales laws come to a head in the context of the enforcement of IPR - because digital content is most likely to be traded on-line. Reform of consumer legislation and the application of competition law are also included. Meanwhile IPR is only partially harmonised at EU level and territorial licenses impede the free movement of goods and services (e.g. MEPs cannot legally use BBC iPlayer in Brussels). The Commission plans to propose a revised directive by the end of 2012 based on the Communication ‘Putting in place a seamless, integrated Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)’ and the review of Directive 2001/29/EC “on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society” and Directive 2004/48/EC “on the enforcement of intellectual property rights”.

This group will be of most value if structured to bring together those with differing views and focussed on the opportunities for growth rather than current/past problems. It might usefully co-operate with those planning to address the expected Communications Bill in the UK, and also plans to reform consumer legislation with the transposition of the Consumer Rights Directive.

Other areas discussed included:

Procurement - The EURIM Public Service Delivery (PSD) Group plans to follow up its previous work on the EC proposals to amend the existing directives on public sector and utilities procurement and to improve guidance, including on State Aid.

Open Standards - The EURIM PSD Group has a sub-group working on the requirements for the use of Open Standards with regard to public procurement.

Spectrum - There is a need to look at Spectrum at EU and International level.

 

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