Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been joined by 15 other EU leaders in a letter this week to European Council President Donald Tusk emphasising the importance of pressing ahead with full implementation of the EU Digital Single Market. He is highlighting the vast potential of the Digital Single Market (DSM) as a major opportunity to boost the dynamism and competitiveness of the European economy, significantly reduce transaction costs for business, and provide a real dividend for consumers.
Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday ahead of this week's European Council meeting, the Taoiseach said:
In adapting our shared market rules to the digital realities of the early twenty-first century, we will either create the right economic environment here in Europe or accept that the most promising digital opportunities are beyond our grasp. The reality is that barriers to doing business digitally and across borders are now barriers to growth and jobs.
That is why I am leading an initiative in advance of this week’s meeting and will be joined by 15 Member States in my letter to President Tusk reaffirming the importance of maintaining strong political momentum on the Digital Single Market.
This builds on work that Minister Dara Murphy has been coordinating with a core group of digitally advanced countries. We have specific concerns about the risk of delay in presenting a legislative proposal to prevent unjustified data localisation requirements under the 'free flow of data' initiative, as highlighted at the Telecoms Council on 2 December, and more general concern that meeting the 2018 deadline for full DSM implementation set by the June European Council will require further stepping up of engagement with key dossiers in both Council and Parliament.
The 15 countries supporting this week's political initiative by the Taoiseach are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, and UK. Others are supportive but unable to join on this occasion because of recent Government changes.
According to the letter:
We need to give clear political priority to creating the right conditions across Europe for innovation, investment and entrepreneurship, including by recognising the crucial role of fast-growing young firms in employment growth.
More generally, the key challenge we face is pressing ahead with conviction to execute the DSM legislative programme: stretching our political ambition, agreeing concrete timelines, and delivering early and practical results, particularly for European consumers and SMEs.
We agreed in June that all DSM measures should be completed and implemented by 2018. Delivering on this commitment will clearly require further stepping up of our work in the Council, and setting stronger expectations for effective engagement with the European Parliament. Otherwise we risk missing our deadline and jeopardising our ambition to establish a dynamic Digital Single Market in the Union.
A previous letter by the Taoiseach in June 2015 was joined by 7 other leaders and also stressed the importance of a high level of ambition for a fully functioning DSM. This informed the endorsement by the June 2015 European Council of the current Digital Single Market Strategy that was presented by the Commission the previous month.
The Taoiseach will also be highlighting at this week's meeting the related importance of completing the Single Market for services, including pressing for a high level of ambition for the forthcoming Services Package expected from the Commission in January.