Digital Single Market plans clear an important hurdle

CHANGES which will enable consumers to watch their favourite television programmes abroad and help businesses to sell their goods more easily online across Europe have received backing from the European Parliament

MEPs today approved a report supporting the creation of a Digital Single Market (DSM) in response to a cross cutting set of initiatives from the European Commission.

The report, supported by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, backs the introduction of measures which would allow purchasers of, for instance, subscription TV services, to watch programmes abroad.

It also includes proposals to remove red tape and make it easier for businesses to sell to 500 million consumers across 28 EU member states. Currently only 14% of Europe’s small and medium size businesses sell goods or services over the internet.

Vicky Ford MEP, who chairs the ECR Group’s DSM policy group, said the digital and sharing economy brought huge opportunities for increasing economic growth, addressing societal issues and solving environmental problems.

“This is one of our top priorities for unlocking competitiveness in Europe,” she said.

Mrs Ford welcomed the parliament’s united call for small businesses to be exempt from complicated new VAT rules covering digital transactions.

However, she stressed that any changes must underpin the digital economy and not put a brake on innovators.

“Unfortunately some of the Commission’s recent actions are not so sensible,” she said. “Its proposal for digital purchases creates a two tier structure for online and offline sales. Just at the time when we need to build consumer trust, this could create confusion.

“Consumers want to be able to do business across borders. Digital is a borderless world and any changes we make must be international.”

Dan Dalton MEP, ECR Group Co-ordinator for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, said: “The digital tsunami is coming and will make a fundamental difference to our lives. We should embrace it and make sure the UK and Europe are at the forefront of developments.”

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