May 6, 2015
Today, the European Commission launched its strategy to create a Digital Single Market for Europe. eBay welcomes this important initiative aimed at realizing the full potential of the EU's internal market in the digital economy.
There are more than 20 million Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the EU, representing an astonishing 99% of businesses. However, these firms are operating mainly at national level and thereby missing the economic opportunities that lie in the scale and scope of a European market of some 500 million people. Much hope has been placed in online commerce to help SMEs expand beyond their national boundaries. But the share of SMEs selling cross-border online remains very low at around 7%.
At eBay, we are optimistic. We have collected evidence showing that technology is an immensely powerful tool allowing SMEs to benefit from economic opportunity. The internet, combined with digital commerce services, enables small businesses to take their operations from local to global: they significantly broaden their customer base, gain market share and improve their resilience. This is happening right now, at scale, throughout the EU. Research we have conducted together with economists from Sidley Austin LLP reveals how small business turn towards online marketplaces such as eBay to reach customers across Europe and globally. On average, SMEs leveraging eBay in the EU serve consumers in 18 different countries annually. And this is not a phenomenon limited to large cities and prosperous areas. We find that exporting SMEs are situated throughout Europe's regions, and their success is not dependent on traditionally preferred location.
"We see enormous, inclusive growth potential in the digital economy and have great hopes for the Digital Single Market", says Stefan Krawczyk, Associate General Counsel and leading eBay Government Relations for EMEA and Asia.
Stefan explains: "Even today, thousands of entrepreneurs sell to multiple continents through the eBay Marketplace. Imagine what Europe's 20 million SMEs can do when we rid them of red tape, tear down barriers to cross-border trade and give them access to high quality internet and innovative, disruptive digital services!"
To that end, eBay applauds the European Commission's focus on facilitating burdensome VAT administration for sellers of tangible goods, its ambition to further harmonize differing national consumer legislation, and the dedication to tackling high-prices and inefficiencies in cross-border parcel delivery. But there are additional pieces to this important puzzle. Achieving a connected Digital Single Market will also require the EU institutions to:
- · Actively use competition law to promote intra-EU online trade
- · Modernize the application of consumer protection policy
- · Uphold the "Home Member State" principle
- · Continue supporting the digital economy through a balanced intermediary liability framework
Immediate action targeting red tape and blatant barriers to trade must be complemented by longer-term reform to create a truly entrepreneurial, SME-friendly and stimulating Digital Single Market. If we fail to encourage and support innovation and disruption, we will inevitably fail to obtain meaningful economic growth and employment in Europe.
EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker also called for a "climate of entrepreneurship" in the digital economy. In order to achieve this eBay believes the EU should:
- · Create a performance-based regulatory environment;
- · Develop and interpret policy through dialogue;
- · Achieve complementary policy objectives through flexibility;
- · Develop regulatory frameworks based on experience and learning.
Read more about our proposals for action and reform to create a connected and entrepreneurial Digital Single Market here.