When European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave his State of the Union last week, he called the rise of the continent’s long dormant economy a sign of clear skies. In a burst of rhetorical flourish, Juncker proclaimed that “the wind is back in Europe’s sails”!
But for Europe’s digital economy, the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. Back in 2015, the Commission launched an ambitious reform plan. A wave of proposals – including a revamp of copyright and an overhaul of telecom rules – promised to build a thriving European digital single market.
Since then however, only a few successes are visible: Consumers won this past summer when telcos were forced to stop gouging them with expensive data roaming charges. A new proposal could end national data localisation rules which harm competition and block startups from scaling up.
Overall, though, Juncker’s digital Europe is drifting way off course, imposing heavy-handed, inappropriate regulations. Instead of creating a unified digital single market encompassing more than 500 million consumers, Juncker’s misguided policies are fragmenting it. New European regulations threaten to be ineffectual or, worse, to throttle business and innovation.