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From electronic commerce to the comprehensive internal market

Digitalization changes the economy and the way we work enormously: in production processes, products, service and business models. It is based on digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotic systems, virtual and augmented reality, as well as cloud computing and big data.

Networked data, production and sales channels meanwhile affect the smallest retailers and craft business. The digital transformation is fundamentally changing markets and creating at the same time new services, products and business models. Existing value chains are phasing out and new ones are created. The innovative strength of digitalization is evident in both process changes and the variety of products. At the same time, there is very high pressure to adjust, keeping pace with the development of the time in order avoid being driven out of the market. As more and more people purchase goods and services online, it is becoming increasingly important to manage electronic commerce. The online marketplace provides to consumers great convenience, but it also involves certain risks.

Since 2010, the “Digital Single Market” moved more and more to the forefront as the core effort of the EU to adjust its inner unity to the digital age. Topics such as net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should allow equal access to all web services to all users, gained in importance in the context of the European Commission’s “Digital Agenda for Europe”.

In 2015, the European Commission presented an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for the Digital Single Market, which brought a large number of improvements to the digital daily life of consumers. Thanks to the regulation against unjustified “geoblocking”, online retailing must make its offers available to consumers in all EU Member States at the same price. Another new regulation enables EU citizens to use their streaming services and online subscriptions during the stay in another EU country. Bookings via online portals such as travel agencies and websites for holiday´s accommodation reservation is now also becoming fairer and more transparent for consumers. Data protection online has also been improved through the General Data Protection Regulation.

Our digital world is developing at a tremendous speed. Therefore, Europeans must continue to work together to create for themselves a beneficial digital future. Whether we look at “big data” and artificial intelligence or topics such as data protection and digital rights – there are still numerous challenges.