Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The EU Declares 7 Digital Priorities and Forgets the Big One

The European Commission has adopted a seven point plan to accelerate the growth of the European digital economy. The European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes claims, "2013 will be the busiest year yet for the Digital Agenda. My top priorities are to increase broadband investment and to maximise the digital sector's contribution to Europe's recovery."
They have focused on an agenda that is aimed at increasing technology investment, improving and growing eSkills, enabling public sector innovation, and ‘reforming the framework conditions’ for the internet economy. It is claimed that by addressing the infrastructure by pan-European action could create 1.2 million jobs.
However is it merely pushing a future agenda over the reality of the mess of the EU today. Some  would suggest that today’s clear abuse of taxation loopholes within the community are in fact potentially spoiling the overall growth? Other argue that because there is nothing illegal being done by the these international corporations all is well and free markets will always prevail.
The EU’s seven priorities are:
1. Create a new and stable broadband regulatory environment aimed at reducing the cost of roll-out.
2. New public digital service infrastructures of digital services such as eIDs and eSignatures, business mobility, eJustice, electronic health records and cultural platforms such as Europeana. All aimed at reducing the cost of doing business
3. Launch Grand Coalition on Digital Skills and Jobs and make Europe more "start-up friendly".
4. Propose EU cyber-security strategy and Directive
5. Update EU's Copyright Framework
6. Accelerate cloud computing through public sector buying power with an aim to dismantling current national walls and creating the ‘world's largest cloud-enabled ICT market.’
7. Launch new electronics industrial strategy for micro- and nano-electronics.
So we have some very grand plans which claim to show the way forward for a digital Europe. But these plans do not address how the revenues generated today let alone tomorrow can build a stronger society. The new start up and technology corporations are continuing to pay their fair share and invest in the local economies and instead are squirreling away their gains, sharing it with their shareholders and playing financial games in order to avoid tax. The current EU non standardised VAT and taxation rules have created this opportunity or problem. The EU is great at proclaiming the way forward but often very poor at resolving the challenges they create.

1 comment: said...

Indeed VAT is a huge challenge and being dealt with by book industry lobbyists (like us, European Booksellers Federation. A consultation is open at the moment and no doubt the industry will answer with one voice that VAT on paper and e-books should be similar. The question is : will Ministers of Finance of the 27 Member States unanimously agree when asked to make a decision, that is should be the case?