Commissioner Kroes warns against online protectionism

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Neelie Kroes, the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and the Commission Vice-President, called for action to make Europe the world’s safest online environment. At the Cyber Summit in Bonn on 11 November 2013, Kroes set out her views on how to achieve this in a speech. Ecommerce Europe’s view is that a safe online environment is essential for trust, and trust is crucial for online shopping to flourish. It calls for a fair balance in which fundamental rights are guaranteed and the digital is able to grow.

Commissioner Kroes also advocates for the realization of the full potential of the digital single market. Cyber security and citizen’s rights have received special attention in the light of the NSA spying scandal and the proposed legislation on data protection. Kroes stated: “Data protection is a fundamental right that we must safeguard. People have a right to know and control how their data is used.” In the same speech, she argued that the recent spying scandal should not result in disproportionate protectionism raising boundaries between states.

On the contrary, she advocated a digital single market in which the economic growth opportunities are equally important: “We must protect our citizens, so their data is not misused in that way. Not destroying the digital opportunities they enjoy every day, but protecting proportionally. […] The answer does not lie in constraining data within national borders. Hiking up the drawbridge and creating isolated national fortresses. With separate systems in each country, slicing our single market into tiny pieces. […] Rather the answer lies in bringing those barriers down. For a unified European market, with economies of scale, where new secure ideas can flourish and find a home. So Europe can become the safest online environment in the world.”

In the closing remarks of her speech, Kroes referred to and called upon European leaders to embrace the single digital market and its role in the European economy: “Just a few weeks ago, EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, formally acknowledged the importance of the digital economy. And they endorsed some bold decisions to get our economy online, and give it the single market boost.”

Ecommerce Europe pays close attention to Commissioner Kroes’ Digital Agenda and advocates for the removal of borders to create a true single digital market to enable further cross-border sales.

For the full text of Commissioner Kroes’ speech, please click here.

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