As of 1 January, Bulgaria has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months as part of the rotating mechanism among Member States. The Bulgarian Presidency follows the Estonian one, which ended on 31 December 2017, and will be followed by the Austria Presidency for the period 1 July – 31 December 2018.
In order to set long-term goals, Member States holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three, called ‘trios’ and prepare a common agenda determining the Council’s priority over 18 months. In June 2017, the three Member states identified delivering a fair and competitive Digital Single Market as a key objective for the trio presidency.
Estonia managed to reach political agreements on several files such as Modernizing VAT for cross-border e-commerce, the Geo-blocking Regulation or the Parcel Delivery Regulation, but it will be up to the Bulgarian Presidency to pursue negotiation on issues such as ePrivacy or the Digital Contracts Proposals.
In its Program, the Bulgarian Presidency identifies Digital Economy and Skills as a priority for the upcoming months. It insists notably on competitiveness, through removing barriers to and fostering cross-border trade as well as reducing disproportionate requirements for businesses, and on fostering investment in research and innovation, particularly in cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence. The Presidency also pledges to focus on matching skills and labor market needs by coordinating education, training and employment policies to accompany the development of the digital economy.
During the period of the Bulgarian Presidency, a few new e-commerce related proposals are expected to be published by the European Commission, such as the upcoming proposal for a EU law on Platform-to-business (P2B) trading practices and the package “New Deal for Consumers“, which should be both published in April 2018.
Ecommerce Europe looks forward to cooperating with the Bulgarian Presidency to bring forward the completion of a real Digital Single Market.