Securing the Future of the EU Digital Single Market

On April 7, at the ALDE Expert Forum On Digitalisation in Helsinki, I had the opportunity to participate in the panel “The Digital Single Market (DSM) beyond 2019.”

Moderated by Taavi Roivas, panelists including Anne Berner, the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications, and myself shared our views on some of the most positive achievements of the DSM. At AT&T, we see the DSM helping to create a true digital ecosystem. But we also see that EU policies can be improved to attract more global investment.

One of the major hurdles to a true “single market” is how the EU has handled policies on the movement of data. Up to now, the EU has siloed the issue rather than approached it as an integrated topic. As our global economy enters a period of dramatic disruption, the EU has a responsibility to not only view data issues holistically but to restore the trust of citizens and corporations across the member countries.

Panelist Marta Cantero Gamito, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, discussed her findings that regulations appear to be needed for digital platforms, but that regulatory flexibility is necessary and overreach should be avoided. Ms. Cantero Gamito advocated for the EU to adopt a flexible regulatory framework with different levels of protections—from which customers should be able to choose—that treats platforms as data-collecting intermediaries rather than regulatory targets.

Regulatory flexibility is imperative in our dynamic industries, and AT&T recognizes this fact across the globe. However, this same dynamism and complexity can also create a high risk of imbalances.

As innovators well know, technological progress outpaces regulatory modernisation. To drive toward a more cohesive technological future, we must focus our efforts on developing a modernized and horizontally consistent regulatory framework that will drive investment in the EU DSM and harmonise wireless spectrum throughout the continent.

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