(Digital) Single Market in Europe is buzzing, but is it delivering?

The European Commission published a midterm review of the Digital Single Market Strategy (DSM). The DSM and the Single Market Initiative are two deeply complementary initiatives (more precisely, DSM is a part of the Single Market Strategy) aiming to create a market which is conducive of cross-border business exchange and fair for consumers.

But has the DSM started delivering for startups and scaleups? The Commission has issued 35 legislative proposals under the umbrella of the DSM Strategy until now. How do you find these actions and are they really tackling important issues for startups and scaleups? Are they really helping entrepreneurs to tap into the potential of the entire European market by making it more easy to do business cross-border?

Let’s take a look at only a couple of them, particularly relevant for startups and scaleups, and we encourage you to tell us your opinion on the midterm review!

Proposals for simple and effective cross-border contract rules for consumers and businesses.

The two proposals will tackle the main obstacles to cross-border e-commerce in the EU: legal fragmentation in the area of consumer contract law and resulting high costs for businesses — especially SMEs- and low consumer trust when buying online from another country.

Actions to prevent geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination against consumers based on nationality or residence.

This legislation should ensure that consumers seeking to buy products and services in another EU country, be it online or in person, are not discriminated against in terms of access to prices, sales or payment conditions etc. A very important initiative for startups trying to scale up across the EU.

Proposals to reduce the administrative burden on businesses arising from different VAT regimes.

The proposals should allow consumers and companies, in particular start-ups and SMEs, to buy and sell goods and services more easily online.

The DSM review also made two other important announcements:

Free-flow of data

For startups and scaleups it is important to be able to send and/or receive non-personal data across the EU. Many innovative business models derive their value from free data flows. The Commission is preparing a legislative initiative on the cross-border free flow of non-personal data, to be delivered in Autumn 2017. Additionally, an initiative on accessibility and reuse of public and publicly funded data will be delivered by Spring 2018.

Unfair B2B contract relationship of online platforms

App developers and other startups and scaleups need to be able to negotiate business relationship with online platforms, which often represent their gate to consumers. The Commission will look into how to make this relationship more balanced, and will deliver a set of actions by the end of 2017.

Some of these topic may come up during discussions at the Single Market Forum in Malta on 19 June! Stay tuned for more info and in the meantime, join the discussion online: http://bit.ly/LinkedInSMEs.

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