The Energy and the Digital Market agendas are the test to see if the economic foundations are going to be effective for the future of the European Union, says MEP Carlos Zorrinho (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament- S&D) in an interview to EUBrasil. With a single market both in digital and energy, the EU projects its entire global economic potential and makes the Economic, Monetary and Policy Union irreversible; without those integrated markets the EU would gradually weaken, he adds. Zorrinho MEP is vice-president of the European Parliament (EP) Delegation for Relations with the Federal Republic of Brazil (D-BR), member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), member of Transversal Groups Digital Agenda (EP) and Digital Europe (S&D) and also a member of the EUBrasil Association.
EUBrasil: What is under discussion about the Digital Agenda?
Carlos Zorrinho: The main objective of the Digital Agenda is to create the foundation for the development of a digital single market in the European context. This single market, encompassing 500 million consumers, has a huge growth potential in economic and trade relations between Europe and the rest of the world.
While the EU develops a digital single market, it also seeks to keep pace with the new digital revolution and participate in the development of a transparent, healthy and competitive global market.
EUBrasil: What is needed to create the digital single market?
Zorrinho: The creation of a digital single market is based on three pillars: removing barriers to e-commerce in Europe, the development of infrastructure and latest generation of services accessible to European consumers, the digitalization and industrialization 4.0, generating new opportunities for investment, business and job creation.
EUBrasil: We believe that the following topics are under discussion: e-commerce, parcel delivery, geo-blocking, consumer protection cooperation, copyright, satellite and cable directive, different VAT regimes. How could we list them in order of priority?
Zorrinho: All these issues are fundamental. A single market is a complex system, which is limited by the weakest link. For example, without tax harmonization e-commerce suffers major distortions. On the other hand, the issue of trust of buyers and sellers is key in developing the new market. If there are different legal rules for the protection of various market agents, global confidence in the system is broken. Some areas could have exceptional national regulations, but the critical issue for me is the harmonization of the legal and economic context in the EU.
I am the rapporteur for a decision that aims to support the development of interoperability of information systems in public administration and its relationship with business and citizens (Program ISA2). The report, which has already been approved in the committees involved and is now in trialogue with the Council and the Commission, exemplifies the level of the challenge posed by the Digital Agenda. Creating common platforms for interaction between administrations and from these with citizens and businesses is a giant step towards for the creation of the necessary trust for the development of a digital single market.
EUBrasil: Will you propose any changes to the report? Which are they, and why?
Zorrinho: I will follow with great attention the launch of the report and the multiple operational decisions. Recently the European Commission announced 16 key actions (eight in the pillar of market rules, five in the pillar of the services and structures and three in the pillar of growth and development of the digital economy).
Without prejudice to propose or support amendments in other pillars, I am aware that I am part of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and that I am particularly sensitive to the economic potential of the digital agenda, and I will make more proposals in this area. I will seek in particular to emphasize the relationship between the Digital and Energy Agenda specifically to develop networks, territories, buildings and intelligent production systems, competitive and environmentally friendly.
EUBrasil: President Buzek (ITRE Committee) announced the vote for December. After the vote what is the procedure?
Zorrinho: Once approved, the report will set the European Parliament’s position on communications and will be an important reference for the action of the Commission and the Council. It will also help the assessment that the EP will do later of the Digital Agenda implementation decisions, i.e., the co-decision components involved in the implementation of the Digital Single Market.
EUBrasil: What about the dossier “data protection” discussed in early July, which is pending? And why?
Zorrinho: This dossier is followed directly by the Committee for Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees. The Committee has undertaken to close a proposal by the end of 2015. It is a dossier of high complexity, but absolutely critical to the success of the process, also with wider implications in the ongoing negotiations of EU trade agreements with other economic areas, in particular the transatlantic partnership EU-US and with MERCOSUR which I hope will be implemented very soon.