After multiple lawsuits aimed at U.S. tech titans, the European Union is proposing a unified digital marketplace for companies in all 28 member states that would compete with the likes of Facebook and Google reports The Wall Street Journal. It’s also a chance for the EU to shepherd its industries into the digital age, which could lift Europe from the economic stagnation it has suffered since the Great Recession.
The EU’s first challenge will be to overcome each country’s laws that inhibit cross-border trade, like contract law, taxes, consumer protection, and copyright laws, says The Wall Street Journal. Cross-border shipping is also problematic, as it’s uncompetitive and expensive. This has harmed cross-border trade so much that only 15% of European consumers bought goods and services from another country, according to EU commission data. (Tellingly, Amazon, for example, became adept early on in maneuvering around cross-border regulations.) The EU commission strategy also recommends doing away with geo-blocking–which locks out content from outside countries based on IP addresses for services like Netflix–as well as reevaluating tax codes so that revenue is taxed where it’s made. Revamping European telecoms and aging infrastructure is also a priority.
Finally, the EU commission wants to take a closer look at the tech titans themselves, which they leave unnamed in the proposal, and how their services respect (or disrespect) EU privacy and security laws. In a February Re/code interview, President Obama dismissed the EU’s complaints against the U.S. tech industry as a political strategy to carve out space in the tech marketplace for EU businesses.