“To help repair the economic and social damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic, kick-start European recovery, and protect and create jobs, the European Commission is proposing a major recovery plan for Europe based on harnessing the full potential of the EU budget.
Next Generation EU will:
- Invest in repairing our social fabric,
- Protect our Single Market.
- Help rebalance balance sheets across Europe.
And while we are doing this, we need to press fast-forward towards a green, digital and resilient future.”
In its communication, the European Commission identified “the need for a fairer and easier business environment. The extended [Coronavirus] lockdown boosted internet shopping and online business models. This trend will only accelerate in the months and years to come, with more companies switching to digital to do business. However, the online environment is currently dominated by a number of large platforms. Their position – and their greater access to key data resources – has an impact on the ability of smaller European companies to start up, scale up or make the most of the Single Market.
These issues must be addressed if Europe is to make the most of the digital recovery. In this spirit, one of the aims of the new Digital Services Act will be to improve the legal framework for digital services, with clear rules for online platforms. It will offer greater security for consumers online, prevent the abuse of market power by platforms and ensure a fair market place with equal opportunities for smaller businesses.
We must also focus on reducing administrative burden and making it easier for companies, especially SMEs, to use digital tools, such as e-signature. They need support to get easier access to data and reduce red tape through digital solutions, for example for contracts. The use of one-stop support shops and simplifying online administrative procedures should be encouraged.
The [COVID-19] crisis has also tested the EU competition framework, which was adapted quickly to allow especially indispensable national support through State aid. At the same time, it is important that these temporary flexibilities does not cause long-term fragmentation in the Single Market. EU competition policy is essential to ensuring a level playing field in today’s economy, driving innovation and giving consumers more choice. It brings the best out of our companies and enables them to stay competitive globally. As Europe sets out on its recovery path and speeds up the twin transitions, we should ensure that competition rules remain fit for today’s world. To make this happen, the Commission is currently reviewing the EU competition framework.
The crisis has also revealed a number of vulnerabilities and a significant increase in certain crimes, such as cybercrime. This shows the need to reinforce the EU Security Union. As part of this, the EU Security Union Strategy will address these challenges and build on the work for a secure internal market and society.”