President Van Rompuy : “European online economy is still a fragmented market”

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During the EuroCommerce 20th Anniversary, celebrated in the Albert Hall in Brussels on 25 November 2013, Herman Van Rompuy has set out his vision on the economic recovery. The President of the Council of the European Union stated that the digital economy is the driving force behind it.

As an affiliated federation of EuroCommerce, Ecommerce Europe was well represented at the event. It put special effort in ensuring that the key-note speaker, President Van Rompuy, was present at the event. The President emphasized that the European Council is devoted in creating a business friendly environment for online shopping and he stressed that there are some hurdles that could and should be overcome. “There is no secret: business will be a major driver for the recovery,” Van Rompuy stated.

In a fast changing world, Europe should focus on a couple of priority areas, amongst which is the digital economy where retail and wholesale companies play a big role. “To help boost the benefits for businesses, Single Market rules should of course be light and fit for purpose. Striving for maximum simplicity and minimum hassle, especially for SMEs, is a matter of common sense, and a principle European Council leaders insist upon. Single Market rules are living rules, and their whole purpose is precisely to reduce red tape. Because when we get it right, with single market rules: It’s twenty-eight out and one in. A level playing field for all.”

Van Rompuy added that much has to be done to maximize the full potential of online retail: “When it comes to the online economy, Europe is still a truly fragmented market. Whereas we used to lead on all things digital, we’re now lagging behind. We’ve invested too little in the infrastructure, the skills and the organizational changes that are needed to reap the benefits of these technologies. And this is something we simply cannot afford.”

President Van Rompuy also stressed that Europe should invest in the vocational training of students to prepare them for a career in the online economy. “I often repeat this but it’s always astounding: by 2015, we’re looking at finding ourselves with 900,000 unfilled IT vacancies. 900,000. At a time when jobs are scarce, it’s not hard to do the math. We seriously need to invest in digital skills.”

He closed his speech with the following statement: “The private sector will be the growth driver. Its competitiveness is essential, and will require attention from political authorities at all levels. In any case, the European Union will do its utmost to deepen and widen our Single Market, the biggest in the world, and to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union that is supporting the Euro. We are fighting the same battle: for our prosperity, our jobs and “our Europe”! Thank you.”

For the full text of the speech, please click here.

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