Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 15 News List

EU unveils digital economy overhaul

AFP, BRUSSELS

The EU on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to overhaul Europe’s fragmented digital landscape that would allow Europeans traveling in other bloc countries to get their Netflix film fix or watch BBC iPlayer even when abroad.

Europe is the world’s biggest economy, but despite its 500 million potential consumers, in many ways it remains a divided continent of 28 distinct economies, especially when it comes to media and the Internet.

Across the EU, digital services like music streaming site Spotify Ltd or shopping behemoth Amazon.com Inc, often remain confined to national borders, with separate accounts required from one nation to another.

“Let us do away with all those fences and walls that block us online,” European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said in a statement.

The push to make all online media — whether music, film or TV — available across the EU is just one of several proposals that the EU is to officially unveil in a policy package on May 6.

However, already Ansip said the road to implement the plan would be arduous, despite being a top ambition of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has promised to put all his energy into creating a single digital economy in Europe during his mandate.

The biggest block to the plan is its sheer ambition, almost certain to draw a dizzying array of opponents from digital powerhouses to filmmakers and shopkeepers afraid for livelihood and revenue streams.

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