Günther Oettinger scrutinized by the European Parliament about Digital Economy and Society


Commissioner-designate for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger has been recently heard by the European Parliament’s Committees to evaluate his competences, and to discuss several important topics to the e-commerce sector such as the Digital Single Market, data protection, and SMEs and innovation. The new Commissioner seems to take his portfolio seriously and revealed some ambitious plans. “We are in the midst of a revolution, digital technologies are changing the world and our lives completely”, Oettinger told in front of the European Parliament.

Digital Single Market
One of the main policy priorities Ecommerce Europe focuses on is completion of the Digital Single Market. Cross-border e-commerce can only flourish in a true Digital Single Market where barriers to cross-border trade have been removed and Juncker’s integrated approach could mean the process of completing the Digital Single Market will be sped up rapidly. Ecommerce Europe welcomes Commissioner-candidate Oettinger’s declarations to the European Parliament about the Digital Single Market, which he intends to complete by developing ambitious legislative steps in the next six months in collaboration with the Vice-President responsible for this portfolio.

Data protection
Looking to 2015, one of Oettinger’s priorities will be to support the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market and the Justice Commissioner in finalizing the negotiations on the Data Protection Regulation in 2015 and thus prepare a reform of the e-Privacy Directive.Ecommerce Europe supports a modernization of European data protection legislation, but proposes a risk-based approach, which avoids excessive administrative burdens and disproportionate sanctions. About the right to be forgotten, Oettinger declared to stand in favor of the Commission proposal and he will continue to support it. Ecommerce Europe is in line with this standpoint as long as the right to be forgotten remains limited to user-generated content, as merchants have a wide range of legal obligations to keep data on transactions, for example for bookkeeping, taxes and consumer warranty.

SMEs and innovations
Amid Oettinger’s answers to the European Parliament, Ecommerce Europe also welcomes his willingness to promote digital industrial innovation, aiming at a wider and faster integration of digital innovations in all types of products, processes and services across Europe with a focus on non-tech sectors and SMEs. Oettinger will need to coordinate closely with Commissioner-designate for Research, Science, and Innovation Carlos Moedas to ensure the appropriate funds will be made available. 

Next steps
Ecommerce Europe will closely monitor and report back to members on the other hearings of “digital” Commissioner-candidates and Vice-President-designates. Particular attention will be paid to Andrus Ansip, who will responsible for the Digital Single Market, if confirmed by the European Parliament with the rest of President-elect Juncker’s team.

Ecommerce Europe has had fruitful relationships with the digital Commissioner in the previous European Commission and would be pleased to continue this trend with Günther Oettinger and the rest of the “digital” team of the new Commission. Recently Ecommerce Europe has contacted all Commissioners to mark the start of new working relationships.