European Union Commission building

European Union Commission building at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. 

John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission (EC) has proposed over €50 billion ($56 billion) in investments as part of its strategy to create a Digital Single Market.

Included among the cross-industry initiatives are plans to coordinate national and regional strategies on digitising industry across the European Union’s 28 member countries. The EC will also set out to speed up the development of 5G communication networks and cybersecurity throughout the continent, as well as invest €500 million ($570 million) in a pan-European network of digital innovation hubs, supporting business technology needs.

Other proposals include the creation of a ‘European Open Science Cloud,’ offering Europe's 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and tech professionals a virtual environment to store, share and re-use their data across disciplines and borders, as well as the adoption of "future-proof legislation that will support the free flow of data and clarify ownership of data generated by sensors and smart devices."

The EC cites research by PwC and Boston Consulting Group, which says that digitization will create an additional €110 billion ($125 billion) of revenue for industry per year in Europe over the next five years.  

"The industrial revolution of our time is digital,” said Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market, outlining the proposals. “We need the right scale for technologies such as cloud computing, data-driven science and the internet of things to reach their full potential. As companies aim to scale up across the Single Market, public e-services should also meet today's needs: be digital, open and cross-border by design."

Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, echoed Ansip’s endorsement, saying: "Europe has a very competitive industrial base and is a global leader in important sectors. But Europe will only be able to maintain its leading role if the digitization of its industry is successful and reached fast. Our proposals aim to ensure that this happens."

The EC proposals are hailed as the first industry-related package under the Digital Single Market strategy and although they have no direct impact on the music business at this stage, the standardization of data technologies does carry potential implications for digital music services and consumers. Proposals to introduce online registration procedures for companies wishing to trade in EU member states would also reduce administration and set-up costs for music and tech start-ups, while increased investment in technology infrastructure across Europe, particularly 5G, would arguably help aid the wide spread adoption of premium music services.    

Of far greater significance is the Commission’s ongoing plans to modernize copyright legislation across the EU, which are not included in today’s announcement, but do form part of the same Digital Single Market strategy. In December 2015, the EC proposed changes in the law regarding cross border access to music and film subscription services as part of its vision of a modern copyright framework. Proposals relating to safe harbour legislation were originally expected to be published this spring, but are not now expected until the fall.