Vince Cable: “Patchwork” approach to digital economy is failing European businesses

Real Business observed the six European cities for startups in 2015 and the companies to watch – many of which were technology-based firms – earlier this month, but Cable is unimpressed with the digital support that businesses and consumers are receiving.

He said: “In today’s world of smartphones and wi-fi, consumers who have paid for a service rightly expect to be able to use it across borders in the EU. But at the moment we have a patchwork quilt of digital content and services – very good in some places but threadbare in others.

“That’s why I’m calling for the creation of a digital single market. Not only would this boost UK and Eurozone economies by €340 billion but it will make online prices fairer, enable startups to be formed within 24 hours, and help businesses sell throughout the EU.”

Interestingly, Cable’s comments follow taxi app Uber planning to jumpstart the European economy with the creation of 50,000 jobs and more regulated tax, while rural SMEs in the UK are suffering from poor broadband services.

Estonia’s government has been highlighted as an example of one providing digital support, while the fintech scene in the UK has also been praised.

Ultimately, however, Cable is very aware the continent’s digital economy is fragmented across 28 different markets that each have individual regulations.

For example, support of streaming service Netflix “varies wildly” across the EU, thus British users will be unable to access the content they’ve paid for when overseas. Elsewhere, consumers shopping online when abroad struggle to access promotional deals.

Read more on European tech advancements:

The benefits of an online single are said to include providing consumers purchasing confidence and security, in turn generating better sales opportunities for businesses. Additionally, companies would be able to register website domain names without requiring a physical address in a specific country, and startups would be able to legally form a company through one single online registration within 24 hours.

Image via Shutterstock.

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