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Smaller firms must look out for their own interests on the digital market

19 January 2016

Smaller firms must look out for their own interests on the digital market

Foto: SP

The European Parliament today adopted a resolution on the digital internal market. For the SP, the most important interests in this are those of the consumer, and those of small businesses, as SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: ´When it comes to the digital market there’s a danger that the European Commission will go too far. They originally wanted, for example, to make it obligatory for firms to offer their products on line to consumers in every member state, which wasn’t exactly handy for, for example, the local bakers who’ve just set up their own website. Fortunately the EP accepted my amendment to the effect that shops aiming at a local or regional market could pursue the same policy on line.’

The SP welcomes the fact that consumer protection in relation to online purchases will be subject to better regulation, but in this area too the interests of small businesses must be properly protected. A great deal can also go wrong in relations between firms. ‘I think it’s great that consumers will be better protected when buying digital products, such as access to a cloud service for storage of data. But small companies need that type of service and I find it impossible to understand why the Commission has decided for the time being not to regulate the protection of companies which acquire online products from other firms. In the EP, as elsewhere, the position of smaller firms as buyers is given too little attention. I’ll be taking this up together with the representatives of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – SMEs - and continuing to stand up for their rights.’

In addition, this still isn’t a legally binding resolution. The lack of legislative proposals from the Commission has meant that the Parliament has been filling the gap with an endless series of motions and resolutions. ‘In the case of the report on the digital market,’ says De Jong,’ the whole thing was a complete farce. First of all we had months of squabbling over which parliamentary committees had competence on the issue. Then we had to root through nearly 1,300 amendments and now that we have finally arrived at the vote at plenary, we’ve received the first legislative proposals from the Commission. In addition to which, the EP is putting the horse behind the cart, because the purpose of the report was precisely to influence the Commission before it brought out its formal proposals.’

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