PRIME Minister David Cameron wrote to his European counterparts early in the year setting out the UK’s vision for a European digital economy. The potential benefits are huge – by building a true Digital Single Market we could grow Europe’s economy by €340 billion, allow consumers access to cheaper and better quality products and services, and help small businesses lower their costs and expand into new markets.
And we can already see some progress. In mid June we’ve seen a huge accomplishment reached by European authorities in the decision to scrap roaming charges. So holidaymakers travelling within the EU will pay the same price to use their mobile phone as they would at home from June 2017. The UK has been leading in these negotiations, so we are very pleased with this result. Equally we are very pleased with the decision of Slovakia to make DSM one of its Presidency’s priorities.
We are experiencing a revolution equal in scale to any previous industrial revolution. The first was driven by steam technology. The second was built on mass production. We are now experiencing the third revolution – the digital revolution and this is truly global. While for many years the development in digital technology did not appear to be having the expected economic impact, we are now seeing real change. Open digital marketplaces are enabling us to take advantage of great developments in technology. So if we continue to allow them to drive up our productivity we must commit to creating vibrant digital marketplaces at all levels – local, national, in the EU and transatlantic.
The UK wants to see an open and dynamic European digital market place. It should encourage entrepreneurialism and innovation; expand consumer experiences and empower citizens; and support and reward creativity. Slovakia and the UK are very much like-minded on this.
The EU must make it easier for small businesses to start up, scale up and add value to the whole economy. We should focus our efforts on supporting businesses to expand and not introduce regulations that make it difficult for them to grow past a certain size. This will help them to export across the globe.
However, digital opportunities are global and not restricted to the EU. We should be equally ambitious when it comes to digital trade globally. The EU must allow the best technologies to compete openly and fairly, no matter where they are developed.
What sort of digital single market does this take? First, we have to find new approaches to regulation that are light touch and flexible. Second, Europe’s creativity is one of its greatest assets. The creative and digital industries are two of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy. Similar is true in Slovakia. We must continue to ensure that we support investment in creativity and innovation, and that creators are properly paid for their work. And finally, I’m a huge believer that to get the most out of our people you need to work together. I value the strong links that exist between us in Europe and in the United States. Making the most of these new technologies will require collaboration between the world’s two largest economic blocks which have always been at the forefront of developments in the digital technology. Only then will we achieve a transatlantic – and indeed global – digital marketplace.
By Andy Garth, UK Ambassador to Slovakia
22. Jul 2015 at 11:59