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Mid-term review of the Digital Single Market: Digital divide remains a concern for EU regions  
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has adopted its position on the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market. Rapporteur Alin Nica (RO/EPP), Mayor of Dudeștii Noi, highlights that cities and regions are in key position to harness the growth potential of the digital economy but draws attention to the digital divide, the prevention of cyberattacks and the protection of personal data.

The Digital Single Market strategy is a top priority of the European Commission's current mandate. I n its mid-term review communication , the Commission identified three main areas where further EU action is needed: to develop the data economy to its full potential, to protect Europe's assets by tackling cybersecurity challenges, and to promote the online platforms as responsible players of a fair internet ecosystem.

The CoR opinion highlights the contribution of local and regional authorities in these and many other areas and points out the need to connect all regions to high-speed broadband services. This topic will be discussed on Friday 2 February at the second meeting of the Broadband Platform set up between the CoR and the European Commission to boost broadband deployment in EU regions. Recommendations include allocating radio frequencies more efficiently, boosting private investment and completing 5G standardisation.

"When we are talking about digital divide, equally important is to enhance digital skills and prevent people being excluded from society and the ICT-based economy. To boost user confidence, we must also pay attention to ensuring all security requirements at all levels to guarantee the optimal degree of respect for privacy and the protection of personal data in the light of the digital revolution and the changing consumer behaviour", rapporteur Nica emphasises.

Against increasing number of cross-border cyber incidents, the opinion supports the creation of a European Cybersecurity Agency. It also welcomes the European Commission's intention to present a legislative proposal on EU rules for the taxation of profits in the digital economy , while suggesting that a fair, objective system of taxation could be applied on revenue from cross-border online sales. This would "ensure a level playing field in terms of tax paid by companies involved in EU-wide e-commerce and boost trade, particularly for SMEs".

Furthermore, Nica's opinion calls to remove barriers to cross-border online activity and to address the issue of geo-blocking to end unjustified discrimination against consumers in other Member States. This includes banning both the blocking of access to websites and other online interfaces on the basis of the customer's place of residence, and the automatic redirecting of customers from one national site to another.


Lauri Ouvinen

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