Illegal online content is a complex and cross-cutting issue that needs to be tackled from a range of perspectives, both in terms of assessing its impact and harmonising the way it is dealt with in the legal framework of the Member States.
Consumers - Related Opinions
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's initiative to prioritise the fight against cybercrime, as it aims to protect Europeans and businesses from cybercrime networks, and includes measures to boost confidence in the use of electronic payment instruments. The EESC is of the view that the benefits of digitisation must be flanked by mechanisms able to meet the accompanying challenges, so that the European economy and Europeans can enjoy the information society to the full. For the EESC it is important to establish deterrents and mechanisms to inform the public about the modus operandi of offenders as well, through awareness-raising campaigns conducted by law enforcement authorities in the Member States.
Since the launch of the Digital Single Market strategy in May 2015, the Commission has delivered on all key measures and presented 35 proposals in total. The Commission calls for swift co-legislative agreements and for all parties to ensure that the measures proposed are rapidly adopted and implemented to allow people and businesses in the EU to fully benefit from a functional Digital Single Market. With the DSM's results among the more tangible for EU citizens, the EESC is particularly interested in the impact on consumers.
This Committee opinion, prepared in response to the commission's request, has taken stock of the views of European stakeholders on how EU policies and regulatory action can use sustainable economic models to transition successfully towards economic modernisation by reconciling economic prosperity and efficiency, social inclusion and environmental responsibility.
The opinion stresses that the EU has a responsibility to become a global actor in promoting respect for fundamental rights and adequate protection of private life and personal data and encourages the European Commission to be pro-active at bilateral and multilateral level in promoting the highest standard of personal data protection.
In this sense, the EESC finds well-balanced and reasonable the four key criteria outlined in the Communication to be taken into account by the Commission when assessing the countries with which a dialogue on adequacy should be pursued. However, it finds important to interpret these criteria in the light of a real commitment on the part of the governments, parliaments, and courts in these countries to reach an equivalent and functional level of personal data protection and calls for more transparency and civil society participation in the process of granting adequacy decisions.
The EESC believes that equal access to healthcare, one of the main objectives of health policies, can benefit from digital support provided certain conditions are met: equal geographical coverage; bridging the digital divide; interoperability among the various components of the digital architecture (databases, medical devices); and protection of health data which must under no circumstances be used to the detriment of patients. The EESC highlights the need to develop and facilitate people's digital health literacy to encourage a critical approach to health information and to support the development of a nomenclature of reimbursable treatments and wellbeing services
The Commission has identified three main strands of further work to move a step closer to a genuine Single Market for financial services:
Increase consumer trust and empower consumers when buying services at home or from other Member States.
Reduce legal and regulatory obstacles affecting businesses when seeking to expand abroad.
Support the development of an innovative digital world which can overcome some of the existing barriers to the Single Market.
A pro-active mindset in business is needed to open up to increasing flows of data and develop the ability to process big data. Flexible and more adaptable business models must be put in place in the context of the current transformation process.
The Commission should carry out a precise analysis of the state of play and of defensive attitudes to the free flow of data in the Member States in order to remove unjustified barriers by putting the right legal and technical provisions in place. Removing unjustified barriers to free flow of data should be an integral part of a Europe-wide industrial policy. Opening up of national markets should also be covered by the European Semester.
As a matter of principle, contractual freedom in the private sector should be respected. A general EU framework for standards is desirable but standards should in no way hamper innovation. Portability should be promoted.
The EESC agrees with the compromise proposed by the Presidency which makes possible a swift ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.