The UK has asked the EU to take bold steps to create a Digital Single Market that delivers for consumers and for entrepreneurs trying to break into new markets. Today’s proposals from the European Commission are a clear sign that the EU is listening.
The proposals on digital portability, once adopted, will ensure that people from the UK will be able to continue to access the online services that they have subscribed to at home, like Netflix and Amazon Prime, when they are on holiday or travelling in Europe.
Online paid subscription services will be covered by the proposals and the legislation will also support public broadcasters, such as the BBC, who can choose to opt in to providing portable services.
This regulation will bring great benefit for consumers and meets the reasonable expectations of people who want to use the services they are paying for wherever they are travelling in Europe.
Technological change means that we are increasingly used to consuming content on the go and being able to receive this content when we travel. Two-thirds of adults in the UK now have a smartphone which allows them to access media wherever they go, and with roaming charges due to be phased out in the EU, people will increasingly expect to be able to do this. But a recent survey found that 41% of people who tried to access their subscription abroad had a limited service, or were blocked. The portability proposals announced today are an important step in tackling this.
Another part of the proposals launched today relate to consumer rights. The EU Commission has said that for the first time, consumers will have a clear set of rights when they buy digital content from across the EU as we already have within the UK. This includes things like games, music and video. It will give them increased confidence to buy the best of European content wherever it is produced. The reforms to consumer protection proposals, alongside future reforms to VAT administration and parcels, will help businesses to export their goods across the EU.
Commission research estimates that if the same rules for e-commerce were applied in all EU Member States, 57% of companies would either start or increase their online sales to other EU countries. This is another positive step towards opening up markets within the EU, creating greater competition and giving consumers more choice and lower prices.
I have had a number of discussions on these topics at the Competitiveness Council in Brussels and have pushed for action from the EU Commission. I am pleased that these proposals have now been published. I am glad to see that the Commission has set an ambitious timeframe for delivery, with the proposals on digital portability planned to come into force in 2017.
It is now time to scrutinise all of these proposals on portability and consumer rights looking, as always, at their cost, impact and practicality. I am looking forward to continuing to work constructively with the Commission, Council, other Member States, European Parliament and business and consumer bodies to swiftly deliver the benefits.
Read the Commission’s draft strategy in full.