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European Commission Press Releases

How digital is your country? Europe needs Digital Single Market to boost its digital performance

George Miller

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Europe needs Digital Single Market to boost its digital performance
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Brussels, 18 May 2018 — Today the European Commission is publishing the results of the 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), a tool which monitors the performance of Member States in digital connectivity, digital skills online activity, the digitisation of businesses and digital public services.

According to it, the EU is getting more digital, but progress remains insufficient for Europe to catch up with global leaders and to reduce differences across Member States. This calls for a quick completion of the Digital Single Market and increased investments in digital economy and society.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said:This is a shift, albeit small, in the right digital direction. As a whole, the EU is making progress but not yet enough. In the meantime, other countries and regions around the world are improving faster. This is why we should invest more in digital and also complete the Digital Single Market as soon as possible: to boost Europe’s digital performance, provide first-class connectivity, online public services and a thriving e-commerce sector.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said: We look forward to a rapid progress on major reforms such as the European Electronic Communications Code aiming at boosting investments in enhanced connectivity. This year’s Digital Economy and Society Index demonstrates that we must deploy further efforts to tackle lack of digital skills among our citizens. By integrating more digital technologies and equipping them with skills, we will further empower citizens, businesses and public administrations. This is the way to succeed the digital transformation of our societies.

Over the past year, the EU continued to improve its digital performance and the gap between the most and the least digital countries slightly narrowed (from 36 points to 34 points). Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands scored the highest ratings in DESI 2018 and are among the global leaders in digitalisation. They are followed by Luxembourg, Ireland, the UK, Belgium and Estonia. Ireland, Cyprus and Spain progressed the most (by more than 15 points) over the last four years. However, some other EU countries still have a long way to go and the EU as a whole needs to improve to be competitive on the global stage.

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DESI 2018 shows:

Connectivity has improved, but is insufficient to address fast-growing needs

  • Ultrafast connectivity of at least 100 Mbps is available to 58% of households and the number of subscriptions is rapidly increasing. 15% of homes use ultrafast broadband: this is twice as high as just two years ago and five times higher than in 2013.
  • 80% of European homes are covered by fast broadband with at least 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) (76% last year) and a third (33%) of European households have a subscription (23% increase compared to last year, and 166% compared to 2013).

The number of mobile data subscriptions has increased by 57% since 2013 reach 90 subscriptions per 100 people in the EU. 4G mobile networks cover on average 91% of the EU population (84% last year).

Indicators show that the demand for fast and ultrafast broadband is rapidly increasing, and is expected to further increase in the future. The Commission proposed a reform of EU telecoms rules to meet Europeans’ growing connectivity needs and boost investments.

More and more Europeans use the internet to communicate

The highest increase in the use of internet services is related to telephone and video calls: almost half of Europeans (46%) use the internet to make calls, this is almost a 20% increase compared to last year and more than 40% increase compared to 2013. Other indicators show that 81% of Europeans now go online at least once a week (79% last year).

To increase trust in the online environment, new EU rules on data protection will enter into force on 25 May 2018.

The EU has more digital specialists than before but skills gaps remain

  • The EU improved very little in the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates (19.1 graduates per 1000 people aged 20 to 29 years old in 2015, compared to 18.4. in 2013);
  • 43% of Europeans still do not have basic digital skills (44% last year).

Alongside the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, the Commission has launched the Digital Opportunity Traineeships to tackle the digital skills gap in Europe. The pilot initiative will provide digital traineeships for up to 6,000 students and recent graduates until 2020 in another EU country.

Businesses are more digital, e-commerce is growing slowly

While more and more companies send electronic invoices (18% compared to 10% in 2013) or use social media to engage with customers and partners (21% compared to 15% in 2013), the number of SMEs selling online has been stagnating over the past years (17%).

In order to boost e-commerce in the EU, the Commission has put forward a series of measures from more transparent parcel delivery prices to simpler VAT and digital contract rules. As of 3 December 2018, consumers and companies will be able to find the best deals online across the EU without being discriminated based on their nationality or residence.

Europeans use more public services online

58% of internet users submitting forms to their public administration used the online channel (52% in 2013).

  • 18% of people use online health services.

In April 2018, the Commission adopted initiatives on the re-use of public sector information and on eHealth that will significantly improve cross-border online public services in the EU.

Background

The annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) aims to measure the progress of EU Member States towards a digital economy and society. It helps EU countries identify areas requiring priority investments and action. The DESI is also a key tool when analysing digital in the European Semester, which allows EU countries to discuss their economic and budget plans and monitor progress at specific times throughout the year.

This year, both DESI and the more detailed analysis of national digital policies, providing an overview of progress and of policy implementation by Member States (previously called Europe’s Digital Progress Report) are published jointly using the DESI name. A more detailed Telecoms Chapter for each Member State is annexed to the reports. To make better comparison between Member States, DESI also develops cross-country analyses in connectivity, skills, use of the internet, take-up of digital technology by businesses, digital public services, ICT R&D and innovation investment and use of Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme funds by Member States.

The Commission has presented 29 legislative proposals under its Digital Single Market strategy and called, in a recent Communication, the European Parliament and Member States to adopt these proposals by the end of 2018.

European Commission Press Releases

European Commission Criticises Third German State Treaty on Gambling

Niji Narayan

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European Commission Criticises Third German State Treaty on Gambling
Photo Source: aljazeera.com
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The European Commission has criticised the latest incarnation of Germany’s State Treaty on Gambling.

After the proposed legislation was submitted to the Commission in May, general director Lowri Evans has submitted a response which casts doubt on the effectiveness of the planned framework.

Evans criticised the short-term nature of the third amended State Treaty on Gambling. Evans questioned the logic of implementing the Treaty for such a short period from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021.

In order to secure a licence, operators will be required to shut down any online casino offerings and offer sports betting without in-play wagering. Players will be restricted to spending €1000 per month, with a 5% turnover tax levied on licensees. These restrictions and fees are expected to slash operators’ revenue should they be fully enforced.

Evans noted that the controls to be implemented could make the market particularly unattractive for operators. With the processing of licence applications to begin from 2 January, the first working day of 2020, licences could be valid for less than 18 months.

Evans casts doubt on whether goals of the Treaty, such as increasing player protection and driving unlicensed operators from the market, could be achieved in an 18-month period. Evans also queried when the effectiveness of the Treaty would be assessed, something pledged when it was first introduced in 2012.

“The Commission emphasises the need for a continuous evaluation of the implementation and application of the State Treaty, in particular (but not limited to) sports betting. The German authorities have already committed in 2012 […] to an evaluation of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the provisions relating to sports betting. Unfortunately, in view of the previous non-award of sports betting licenses, no such evaluation has yet been carried out. Therefore, the German authorities are invited to [explain] how and when an evaluation of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the sports betting provisions will take place,” Evans stated.

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Compliance Updates

Europe that Protects: Stronger rules criminalising money laundering enter into force

Zoltan Tundik

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Dimitris Avramopoulos at the Europe for Citizens - Meeting of the Civil Dialogue - Date: 28/11/2018 Reference: P-038870/00-05 Location: Brussels - EC/Centre A. Borschette © European Union , 2018 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Benas Gerdziunas
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Today, the new measures to counter money laundering by criminal law enter into force across the EU. The new rules will ensure that dangerous criminals and terrorists face equally severe penalties for money laundering wherever they are in the EU, with a minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “If we want to catch criminals and terrorists, we have to follow the money. Today, we are beefing up the EU’s response to money laundering, making sure that criminals and terrorists no longer get away with illegally gained money and face deserved justice. A Europe that protects is a Europe that effectively prevents and prosecutes criminals.”

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “Money laundering is a key tool used by terrorists and serious criminals to obtain funding – by harmonising the crime and the punishment across the EU, we can further close down the space in which they operate. Member States now need to implement the new rules without delay.”

The Commission proposed to harmonise offences and sanctions for money laundering across the EU in December 2017. While all Member States currently criminalise money laundering the definitions of this crime as well as the penalties related to it differ across the EU, allowing criminals to effectively “window shop” and exploit the differences between national legislation.

With the new rules in force that will be no longer possible. Member States now have 24 months to implement the new rules into national law and notify the Commission accordingly.

The recent changes and all AML related topics will be highlighted during Prague Gaming Summit by the attending experts of the gambling industry in a special panel discussion. You can find more details on the following page.

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European Commission Press Releases

Digital Single Market: EU negotiators reach a political agreement on free flow of non-personal data

George Miller

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EU negotiators reach a political agreement on free flow of non-personal data
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. Photo Credits: EPA/BGNES
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Brussels, 19 June 2018 – Digital Single Market: EU negotiators reach a political agreement on free flow of non-personal data

The European Parliament, Council and the European Commission tonight reached a political agreement on new rules that will allow data to be stored and processed everywhere in the EU without unjustified restrictions. The new rules will also support the creation of a competitive data economy within the Digital Single Market.

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said:”Data localisation restrictions are signs of protectionism for which there is no place in a single market. After free movement of people, goods, services and capital, we have made the next step with this agreement for a free flow of non-personal data to drive technological innovations and new business models and create a European data space for all types of data.

Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said: “Data is the backbone of today’s digital economy and this proposal will help to build a common European data space. The European data economy can become a powerful driver for growth, create new jobs and open up new business models and innovation opportunities. With this agreement we are one step closer to completing the Digital Single Market by the end of 2018.”

The new rules will remove barriers hindering the free flow of data, and boost Europe’s economy by generating an estimated growth of up to 4% GDP by 2020.

The new free flow of non-personal data rules will:

  • Ensure the free flow of data across borders: The new rules set a framework for data storing and processing across the EU, prohibiting data localisation restrictions. Member States will have to communicate to the Commission any remaining or planned data localisation restrictions to the Commission in limited specific situations of public sector data processing. The Regulation on free flow of non-personal data has no impact on the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as it does not cover personal data. However, the two Regulations will function together to enable the free flow of any data – personal and non-personal – thus creating a single European space for data. In the case of a mixed dataset, the GDPR provision guaranteeing free flow of personal data will apply to the personal data part of the set, and the free flow of non-personal data principle will apply to the non-personal part.
  • Ensure data availability for regulatory control: Public authorities will be able to access data for scrutiny and supervisory control wherever it is stored or processed in the EU. Member States may sanction users that do not provide access to data stored in another Member State.
  • Encourage creation of codes of conduct for cloud services to facilitate switching between cloud service providers under clear deadlines. This will make the market for cloud services more flexible and the data services in the EU more affordable.

The agreed measures are in line with existing rules for the free movement and portability of personal data in the EU.

 

Background

The Commission presented a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in September 2017 as a part of President Jean-Claude Juncker‘s State of the Union address to unlock the full potential of the European Data Economy. It was announced as one of the key actions in the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy.

 

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