Britain will be a follower, not a leader, in the European Digital Single Market, according to a new government-sanctioned report published today.
The second report of the 2016-2017 session on the digital economy by the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has spelled out in no uncertain terms the regretful waste of opportunity that Brexit has cost the UK in terms of digital leadership, and that the government must tackle the problem.
Specifically, the report talks about the European Commission's 2015 legislative proposal aimed at implementing the Digital Market Strategy.
This is intended to ensure the portability of digital services across the EU, allowing the same access to digital content in France, for example, as in the UK.
The policy outlines three general areas: better online access to digital goods and services; an environment where digital networks and services can prosper; and digital as a driver for growth.
"The decision to leave the EU risks undermining the UK's dominance in this policy area. We could have led on the Digital Single Market, but instead we will have to follow," stated the report.
"The government must address this situation to stop investor confidence further draining away [as] firms relocate to other countries in Europe to take advantage of the Digital Single Market."
The report added that the government should be negotiating on behalf of film, television and travelling content "in reference to portability".
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, and intellectual property, said when interviewed by the report's writers that the consumer benefits of a single digital market are "extremely important" and that the media industry will need strong backing to maintain the ability to sell rights in different countries.
The report admitted that the specific implications of the European Single Digital Market are beyond the remit of its findings, but reiterated the need for the government to make sure that UK business can still access a single market when it arrives.
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