Europe must make the creation of a single digital market a top priority if businesses in the region are to thrive and the region is not to fall behind in the global economy.
This was the warning from a European Commission (EC) report looking at the various problems that force companies to operate in a "patchwork" environment of laws and regulations.
'Geo-blocking’, where certain content is not available in other countries, the disparate use of spectrum holdings for 4G services, the myriad copyright laws in place across Europe, and the costs of delivery within Europe, were all cited as problems harming European firms and the region's economy.
Günther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, said that the situation will only get worse if Europe fails to tackle these concerns.
“Europe cannot be at the forefront of the digital revolution with a patchwork of 28 different rules for telecoms services, copyright, IT security and data protection," he said.
"We need a European market which allows new business models to flourish, startups to grow and the industry to take advantage of the Internet of Things. And people have to invest too - in their IT skills, be it in their job or their leisure time."
The use of big data and cloud computing was also cited as an integral part of Europe’s digital future, but only within the right privacy and data protection frameworks.
“Big data is a goldmine, but it also raises important challenges, from ownership to data protection to standards. These need to be addressed to unlock its potential. The same goes for cloud computing,” said the EC.
Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market, added that Europe must address these problems if the continent is to thrive and compete on the world stage.
“Let us do away with all those fences and walls that block us online. Innovative businesses must be helped to grow across the EU, not remain locked into their home market,” he said.
“This will be an uphill struggle all the way, but we need an ambitious start. Europe should benefit fully from the digital age: better services, more participation and new jobs."
The problems have been identified by commissioners from the 28 nations in the EU, and will be formalised into the Digital Single Market Strategy due for publication in May.
The EC is hopeful that it will have a single data protection law in place by the end of the year, which has been pitched as bringing clarity to firms operating in Europe by providing a single set of laws across the region.
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