Dutch European Parliament member Marietje Schaak feels the European Commission should create a better framework for digital trade in and with European member states. Otherwise, major internet companies will decide the standards themselves, she fears.
Danger to free market
Schaake filed a report to put pressure on the European Commission to come up with a digital trade strategy valid for every member state. The fragmented market hinders every European initiative, she explains to Dutch newspaper FD, which may lead to major internet companies deciding the rules. Chinese Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, has been promoting international free-trade eCommerce zones for quite some time. Schaake says it is not appropriate that major digital giants take matters into their own hands, because she fears this will negatively impact the access to the free market.
“We cannot forget that these companies have profit in mind”, Schaake said. “The legislator has to be in control and the EU has to take the lead because there is already a lot of policy in place. Technologywise, We are lagging behind when it comes to production and services, whereas Asia and the United States are at the forefront of each of those. However, in Europe, we are pioneers when it comes to legislation for the digital economy.”
Schaake mentions, among other things, data protection, net neutrality and lower telecom and internet pricing in her report. She feels Europe should clearly indicate the minimum levels when trade deals are discussed.
“Trade deals are complicated anyway. They should be relevant. Several digital features now play a role in international trade, where there used to be a barrier between products and services. The lines are now blurred and when those services move into the digital world, one needs to have a decent framework for modern-day trade agreements.”