A MEUSAC Core Group meeting today discussed the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe
Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Dr Helena Dalli, said that the ministry is looking at the Digital Market Strategy for Europe from the consumer rights perspective and from the data protection perspective, especially since both areas fall within the remit of the ministry.
She said that this strategy is of interest to all citizens since we are all consumers, more so because it will have both an economic and social impact on all of us.
In reaction to suggestions from the members for more awareness on new digital sector developments, Minister Dalli said that the Ministry for Social Dialogue, along with the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, is working to see how best they can help shop owners enhance the shopping experience for shoppers in view of stiff competition from online buying.
Malta Communications Authority representative, Ivan Bugeja, gave a detailed presentation of the strategy and explained the changes which are being proposed by the Commission and the impact which it can have on Maltese consumers and businessmen.
Mr Bugeja further explained that the internet speed has tripled in a matter of a few years and this has helped innovative projects be created online, leading to a greater consumer demand. He said it is useless creating more services if regulations are not updated.
He said an EC survey found that European consumers were concerned over online payments and the security of their personal data mostly. In the same survey, Malta rates among the top in the e-commerce sector (50%) when the EU average is 18%.
The European Commission is proposing this strategy in the contest of a global economy which is rapidly becoming digital, with the information and communications technology sector no longer being a specific sector, but the foundation of all modern innovative economic systems. The internet and digital technologies are transforming lives and work practices each day that goes by.
The strategy aims to better the free movement of goods, persons and services in Europe. As a result, consumers and businesses can access services online without any problems and in a fair manner while also having a high level of protection, irrespective of the nationality.
The strategy will be built on three pillars:
(i) Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe;
(ii) the creation of the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish;
(iii) Maximising the growth potential of the European Digital Economy.
Executive Director for the Programme and Training of the EU Council Presidency 2017, Victor Camilleri, updated members present on the preparations of Malta's Presidency. He said that in the run-up to the Presidency, a number of themes are being identified which can serve as a base for a study that may be conducted by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the Single Market for small businesses, social inclusion, equality, competition, and an education for all.