EC Wants e-Commerce To Flow Like “Oil In Broadband Pipelines”


Digital services must be Europe-wide says commissioner Vivian Reding

The European commission wants a single market for internet service providers and creative businesses where online transactions can flow like “oil” through the pipeline of broadband networks in the region, according to European commissioner Viviane Reding.

In a speech this week to launch the publication of a white paper entitled Policy Strategy for the Development of New Media Services 2009-2014, Ms Reding, commissioner for Information Society and Media, said that without common markets for ecommerce and internet service provision across the region, the development of digital business and society in Europe would be held back.

“Today the free movement of digital services in Europe is severely hindered by fragmented sets of national rules. Unless we tackle this problem, we will never reach the full potential of the knowledge economy for both businesses and consumers,” she said. “Let me just give you some figures on the state of eCommerce in the EU: last year, one consumer out of three in Europe bought at least one item online, but only 7 percent of European consumers have dared to do so in another Member State.”

Reding went on to liken the need for a single digital market across the region to the oil in a pipeline. “All our work aimed at modernising the rules of telecommunications, at promoting the take-up of Internet broadband, at developing ultra-fast, competitive and secure next generation networks would be almost useless if we don’t promote the take-up of internet based services and of content distribution via the web. Why would you build an oil pipeline if you don’t have oil to flow in it?,” she said. “Well, in my vision, the Digital Single Market is the oilfield, the source of all the range of services that will lead our economy to a knowledge based, fully digital economy.

In a report issued in August, Digital Competitiveness, the EC said that Europe’s digital economy has grown strongly since 2005 and 56 percent of citizens in member states now use the Internet regularly. The EC also pointed to a pool of “digital savvy” young people who will help develop the tech community in the future.

But the commission also warned at the time that there needs to be more cooperation between member states over areas such as online commerce and content sharing. “As traditional business models stall, companies will have to offer services attractive to the next generation of users, while legislators should create the right conditions to facilitate access to new online content while also ensuring remuneration for the creators,” the EC stated.