In these times of economic hardship the Commission opens the year of 2012 by launching this important initiative. It will boost growth in eCommerce, and remove barriers to the Digital Single Market.
The Internet and new technology are the engine of European competitiveness and growth – and will increasingly become more so in the future. They add hundreds of billions to GDP, boost productivity which is the key to growth, and create millions of jobs.
And for consumers, the Internet offers better choice, better flexibility and better value.
Annually, 6 trillion euros changes hands through global e-commerce. But here in Europe, citizens and businesses are lagging behind.
Each year, 200 million Europeans – 40% of all citizens - buy over the Internet. But faced with different national rules and systems, less than one quarter of that number do so across national borders. And, overall, eCommerce is still just around three and a half percent of Europe's retail market.
This Communication sets out how we will make transacting online easier, more trustworthy, more transparent. This will benefit the consumer, but also the businesses that supply on-line products and services. They will be able to benefit from a Digital Single Market, instead of operating in one of 27 local markets.
The Communication also addresses some of the basic conditions that are required for the effective functioning of the Digital Single Market in the years ahead. In particular it announces measures to:
ensure the fixed and wireless broadband infrastructure that supports bandwidth-hungry services like games and pay-per-view films.
enable Cloud Computing services to be developed and taken up
create a safer, more secure Internet.
As we have already set out in the Single Market Act, we will also be setting the framework for European Identity Management, to boost eCommerce through seamless electronic interaction between businesses, citizens and public authorities.
This Communication lays out the strategy to ensure that, through the Digital Single Market, Europe becomes the connected, competitive continent.