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Gunnar Hökmark: Time for digital action- 7 steps

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Too much of European debate about the digital single market is about what the digital development can give us in the future. That is not bad, with a perspective clarifying what is at stake. But more important is to focus on the decisions we need to take in order to let this development take place in Europe. We must focus on the reforms that can enable users, entrepreneurs and investors to facilitate a development that can´t be foreseen but that will be characterized of surprises and that is only limited by our fantasies. It is in our hands to take the decisions that can make EU the number one! Here are seven steps.


First of all. Implement already taken decisions regarding the telecom market. The decisions about spectrum allocation needs to be enforced. The rules for competition need to be respected. Where competition is tougher hte prices are lower, the capacities better and the penetration higher.


Number two. Allocate more spectrum on a European coordinated manner. The 800Mhz band must be opened up in all countries but now is the time to act regarding the 700Mhz band. Europe needs to secure that we have the best capacities, highest speeds and available resources facing the rapid increase of mobile Internet and new generations of services. Other parts of the spectrum must be reallocated for mobile broadband and Wifi in order to secure sufficient frequencies for the growing use, if we want to be the growing economies we are talking about. Terrestrial broadcasting can be reallocated to more suitable parts of the spectrum at the same time as TV Play will be given new and better opportunities by the Internet.


Number three. New frequencies and new nets should be opened up for European services and for networks operating all over EU. It can be paneuropean operators or national operators cooperating in joint European networks. By the development of shared nets and virtual nets we can rather fast achieve European networks without roaming but with a better scale of economy attracting more investments, not only in the operators networks but also in the services made possible by the capacities of tomorrow.


Number four is to create a lead regarding the fixed cables and investments in black fiber, facilitating the superior speeds and capacities we need. The structural funds need to contribute to financing in those areas where it is not commercially possible, in a way that enforces competition.


More spectrum and more black fibre is the key for a lead regarding capacities and speeds. We must enter a reality where we talk about Gigabits rather than Megabits.


Number five is to create a European framework for copyrights. Services that today are blocked must be made open all over Europe. Otherwise European entertainment industries are deemed to fragmentation and lack of competiveness. For the right holders this is better and for the audience it is. For the emergence of competitive European services it is fundamental.


Number six is a European sales law for Internet sales and for the digital economy. If you buy a Swedish service or product from Spain you need to know your rights as well as the companies need to have one set of rule when they are marketing on one single market.


Number seven is to establish a common system for VAT in EU, with respect to the different taxes in the member states but with one structure to manage the VAT payments when services are cross borders.


All this is good for Europe anyway, with or without the digital perspective in mind. But it is crucial in order to be the leading digital economy. It can be done and must be done.

Gunnar Hökmark