The European Union's digital single market commissioner in waiting, Andrus Ansip, will face a number of challenges, including a new copyright directive, disparities in online commerce regulations in member states, and cooperation with other new commissioners, say experts.
Ansip, the former prime minister and elected MEP for Estonia, said only 14 percent of the union's small- and medium-sized enterprises are active online, and growth is hampered by a splintered legal space.
“We have 28 different and good sets of laws which focus on the digital world. In reality these regulations have constructed borders in the European Union and hold back the creation of a single digital market in the EU,” he said during hearings in Brussels.
Julia Reda, an MEP from Germany's Pirate Party, said copyright reform is a high priority, adding that many people have restrictions to services which they have paid for. The previous copyright directive was passed in 2001.
Dmitar Dmitrov, the representative for Wikimedia in Brussels, said the current directive is absurd and illogical, restricts innovation and creativity and creates insecurity.
ERR's correspondent in Brussels, Johannes Tralla, said for example the sale of a picture taken of the European Parliament building would need the permission of the architect in Belgium, while requirements are different elsewhere and there are two million such differences in copyright laws across the Union.
Ansip said any large-scale changes will take time, as many national laws have made promises to copyright holders from 50 to 100 years in advance.
“If we have a common space, which is the Internet, we must also have one set of rules,” Dmitrov said.
“He will have to complete 10 years of work in the next five years and improve a few badly compiled laws,” said Joe McNamee, the head of European Digital Rights, an international advocacy group based in Brussels.
Ansip said geo-blocking, which restricts access of certain Internet domains and their content by location, should be abolished. He said the basis for e-commerce is trust, and the data of EU citizens should be protected in Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean.
“To put it bluntly, [Günter] Oettinger is the challenge," said Jennifer Baker, a EU tech policy correspondent, referring to the designate for the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.
"Ansip must guide Oettinger. It is clear Oettinger did not want the post. But there is an understanding in Brussels that Ansip is very competent."