Published: Mon, 01 August 2016
“The Single Market is one of the biggest achievements of the European Union – providing businesses with access to a barrier-free market of over 500 million citizens. However, we have yet to reap the same benefits in terms of Europe’s Digital Single Market”, Seán Kelly MEP has said.
“European Commission research released this year showed a low average of 16 percent of European SMEs were selling online across Europe, while only 18pc were using social media tools to promote their business,” MEP Kelly said.
“Irish SMEs are leading in this area with 32pc already selling online and Irish SMEs are also ranked as the second biggest users of social media in Europe at 35pc (EU average is 18pc). However, considering that 99.8pc of Irish businesses are categorised as SMEs, it is still a low figure. A web presence is essential for any business in this digital age, enabling smaller businesses to sell more and better promote their goods or services.”
“The EU is committed to tearing down the regulatory burdens that impinge on online trade and recently published its Digital Single Market priorities where the importance of ICT skills development in Europe is one of the main aspects of the Communication. The Digital Market remains fragmented and incomplete and so we need to boost access to digital goods and services, develop the conditions for entrepreneurs in this field, for digital networks and services to prosper, and make the most of the growth potential.”
“That means a dynamic economy that is conducive to innovation, eliminates barriers for businesses, and creates a level playing field through the development of e-government, a future-proof regulatory and non-regulatory framework, a long term digital investment strategy and better access to finance.
“Europe lags starkly behind the US in this sector and this can partially be attributed to the fact that we are pitting our fragmented grouping of 28 different markets against 1 large functioning market on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Such is the scale of what we are trying to do by creating a Digital Single Market that extending the single market to the digital sphere could be as significant as the creation of the original Single European Market.
“If we get this right, we can add €415 billion annually to the Europe economy. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs can be created. Consumers will get better access to digital goods and services and save money through increased competition,” added Mr Kelly, who led negotiations for the European Parliament for five years on the recent Data Protection agreement.