Microsoft welcomes the efforts of the European Commission to create a successful European Digital Single Market (DSM). The DSM has the potential to transform Europe into a more innovative, more inclusive, and better connected society. The DSM will also provide a strong platform for much needed growth, jobs, and renewed competitiveness throughout the Union.
Europe has a unique window of opportunity to accelerate reform and stimulate job creation and investment. The four fundamental “Single Market” freedoms of the European Union – the free movement of goods, the free movement of services and freedom of establishment, the free movement of persons (and citizenship), and the free movement of capital – are the foundation of this opportunity. The DSM action plan has the potential to turn these fundamental freedoms into a reality for the digital society.
As a major technology provider and a firm committed to Europe, we want to add our voice in support. This paper sets out steps that we believe are necessary for Europe’s digital economy, and for the DSM, to thrive. Focus should be put in particular on:
- Enabling the free flow of data and unlocking the potential of trusted cloud technologies. Cloud technologies have transformed computing, enabling more resilient, more secure and more efficient computing experiences. The European Commission has already helped to drive cloud uptake, including through the collaborative approach it has taken to enhance certification and codes of conduct around baseline industry commitments to privacy and security. Privacy and security are the foundations of user trust in online technologies, and essential to cloud growth. But more can be done to promote cloud adoption, and the data flows on which it relies. In this regard, we strongly welcome the Commission’s “free flow of data” initiative and encourage the Commission to move quickly to identify and eliminate EU and national restrictions, in particular sector-specific rules that are no longer justified. Cutting through out-dated rules to enable the uptake of cloud technologies will enable all sectors to benefit from the digital transformation. Europe should also help develop and align with international standards to classify data; classifying data (i.e. assessing what data is held, and the sensitivity of that data) allows organisations to make reasoned decisions about how data should be stored and managed.
- Promoting international standards and interoperability so that the data economy can thrive. As today’s mixed IT environments move to the cloud, interoperability, flexibility, and choice have become increasingly important to the user and developer communities, as well as to the DSM more broadly. We support in particular the Commission’s efforts to promote and encourage standards and interoperability for “data economy” technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT). In the continuum of computing innovation, IoT represents the next major wave of digital transformation. Done properly, IoT technologies should unleash significant opportunities for European competitiveness across all industries. To help overcome today’s siloed IoT solutions landscape, we encourage the Commission to actively support industry’s on-going efforts to develop IoT standards and drive interoperability. Increasing the potential for developer-driven innovation on open horizontal IoT platforms that can leverage ambient intelligence and machine generated data will benefit many European businesses, in particular SMEs. As with any technology policy, the Commission’s interop-related initiatives should be grounded in a principles-based, technology neutral approach.
- Enabling ubiquitous connectivity in a competitive ICT market. Connectivity underpins the DSM. To expand and improve current levels, we encourage the Commission to focus on practical measures that will ensure that easily-available, high-quality, affordable Internet connectivity is delivered to each and every European household and business. These measures should protect and foster innovation and competition across all sectors of the telecommunications and tech industry. At the same time, they should also recognize that the industry’s ecosystem is multi-layered – comprising access networks, on one level, and downstream services and applications on the other – and thus that there are no “one size fits all” solutions in this space. A successful DSM also depends on an environment in which more players have access to finite spectrum resources. The new framework should leave open availability for use of dynamic spectrum access and explicitly guarantee free use of existing and available unlicensed spectrum, such as TV white spaces, which support new Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities.
We are tremendously excited about the DSM. We are excited about its potential to empower European citizens to reach greater heights of creativity and productivity. We are excited about the DSM’s benefits for European businesses. And we are excited that the DSM will transform our society into one that is more inclusive, more accessible, and more innovative.
In short, we share the Commission’s vision for the DSM. We look forward to helping build it together.
You can read Microsoft’s full response to the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy here.