Often defined as “unfinished business”, the European Union’s market integration process appears to have become more fragile than ever at the beginning of the new decade. Beyond Brexit and COVID-19, the digital transformation is changing the traditional, textbook economics of market integration, based on tenets such as economies of scale and the four freedoms. Trends such as the virtualisation, servitisation and platformisation of the economy, coupled with the rise of the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, make market integration at once more appealing and increasingly challenging for EU policymakers, projecting the Single Market into a complete new dimension, in which the “Fifth Freedom” (the free circulation of non-personal data) is intertwined with new concerns with the need to protect fundamental rights, and at the same time secure Europe’s technological sovereignty. Against this background, the Von der Leyen European Commission seems to have marked a significant change towards a more assertive and future-oriented approach to digital policy: the pillars of the Single Market 2.0 are not focused anymore on platform regulation, data protection and the free flow of non-personal data. The future of the Single Market will require that the whole internal market is seen as a layered ecosystem, in which infrastructure, rules, protocols and standards become a platform for large and small companies to develop value added solutions to the benefit of all European consumers. This “EaaP” (“Europe as a Platform”) approach may also induce a change of terminology: what used to be mutual recognition will now mostly be related to interoperability; what used to be subsidiarity is translated into a choice between centralised, distributed and decentralised governance; open interconnection becomes “open API”, and is applied far beyond network industries; and the free circulation of people is enhanced with a strong digital identity and verification layer. The Single Market 2.0 is becoming the locus of data spaces and ecosystems as the basic pillars of the future EU “competitive sustainability” agenda.
The paper is available here.
About the speaker
Andrea Renda is Professor of Digital Innovation at the College of Europe in Bruges. He is a Senior Research Fellow and Head of the CEPS Unit on Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation and the Digital Economy (GRID). He is a non-resident Senior Fellow at Duke University’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. For 2018/2020, a Research Fellow of the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) at Columbia University, New York, and a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. He is currently a member of the EU High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, and a Member of the advisory group on the Economic and Societal Impacts of Research (ESIR) at the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation.
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