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The European Union calls for digital action

February 27, 2015


The Baroness Neville-Rolfe presented the British point of view on digitalization in Europe. Photo: Annette Birch

By Annette Birch

Published in The Capital Post,

Europe should no more lack behind the United States and China when it comes to digitalization. This was the message when approximately 200 representatives from Danish and British governments, the European Commission as well as interest organizations and companies assembled in the old commerce buildings near the Danish parliament on February 25.

“The digital agenda is changing our lives rapidly. It is important that we discuss how we handle a data driven economy, the protection of the consumer and all related questions. Otherwise, the United States and China will continue to out pass us,” said Christian T. Ingemann, CEO for the Danish Chamber of Commerce.

Michael Dittmann, Permanent Secretary in the Danish Ministry of Business and Growth, agreed that not only action but also speed is essential.

“The EU is not as good as the United States and China to adapt to the digital society. This is a large opportunity. The EU need to enable new business models and allow businesses to grow,” Dittmann said.

The conference were organized by the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the British Department for Business Innovation & Skills, to provide input for the European Commission’s report on digitalization, which is due in May. The Commission has thereby headed the calls of more up-to-date and uniform rules from both governments, companies and interest organizations in a world where commercial digitalization like cross border e-commerce are expected to account for 50 percent of sales in the EU by 2018.

Legislation should fit the digital age

The speakers agreed that it important to strike a balance between regulating and enabling the free market in order to provide a foundation for increased revenue from digital businesses and a more digitalized society.

“We cannot shut down the digital world by regulations. However, it should not be a wild west either. We must create a robust and digital market,” said Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the British Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Neville-Rolfe outlined that a plan for the European Union should include a common set of consumer rights in member states, it should be easier to establish businesses in other member states and as well as navigate national requirements.

Dittman agreed that the EU needed legislation to fit the digital age, clear rules to enable consumer trust and a high-speed infrastructure in member states.

Companies require better digital regulation

The reaction was overall positive from the attending businesses and interest organizations. However, some did express concerns about whether policies could keep up with the pace.

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of the tech company techUK, wrote on Twitter that he was excited about the potential but concerned about the ability to regulate the sector and support innovation.

Likewise, the e-commerce company Ebay, called for politicians to adjust legislation to better accommodate the new digital society.

“The digital cross-border industry requires openness and access. It is important that we make use of better regulations to stimulate digital economy,” said Hanne Melin, Director Global Public Policy at Ebay.

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