Ladies and gentlemen
When we set out to build a Digital Single Market in Europe, we promised action in targeted areas. We have kept that promise.
Today, we are presenting the last major DSM initiatives. They address Europe's digital future, which concerns data.
In the near future, most economic activity will depend on data. But if data cannot move freely, our growth potential is limited.
Data is being confined and constrained by technical and legal barriers. Removing these restrictions could generate up to €8 billion a year.
The vision we are presenting today for free flow of data in Europe addresses many areas. Data localisation is a major issue to start with.
It also looks at data ownership, data transfer and liability issues.
For example: who owns data and where responsibility should lie if an automated device makes the wrong choice.
It looks at access to data, and how more data can become available for use and reuse. As yet, we do not see large-scale trading, sharing or exchange of data.
But the more that we have data availability and the more that data is used, the better that the data economy will develop.
And the more growth and jobs it will bring too.
We also need to look into improving portability. For example, a company cannot yet easily switch its data between cloud service providers. Portability can lower costs, thereby lowering the entry barrier for innovative ideas.
We have many good and workable ideas for how to move forward. They all aim to remove barriers to innovation and free flow in the data economy.
But we do not yet have all the answers to these complex issues.
One thing I do know is that today's situation regarding data in Europe has to change. That is why we will now consult extensively.
We will ask for evidence, experiences and examples in all these areas. This information will be invaluable in deciding how best to move forward.
Ladies and gentlemen
If we want to make the most of data, everyone must feel confident that their data is protected. This is why the Commission is proposing new rules on privacy and protection of electronic communications data for people and business.
Our proposal builds on the gold standards of the General Data Protection Regulation agreed last year.
Electronic communications can reveal highly sensitive information about a person or business. We also know that 92% of Europeans insist on the importance of their emails and online messages staying confidential.
Our proposal will guarantee privacy for both content and metadata derived from electronic communications – for example, the time and location of a call.
People will always have the right to say 'yes' or 'no' when it comes to use of their own data. That applies whether it concerns the content of their messages, or metadata. And the same goes for access to information stored in mobile devices.
Consent of the user is paramount.
Our new rules will not only apply to traditional services like voice or SMS, but also to internet-based communications services or future services that allow any type of communication.
Lastly, we also propose simpler rules on "cookies", so that internet users do not have to click on a banner every time they visit a website. This way, people will be more in control of their settings.
They will be able to make an informed choice when it comes to accepting or refusing tracking cookies and other identifiers.
All this will mean the same level of protection for everyone in the EU. It also cuts red tape for European businesses. They will have just one set of rules to deal with, not 28.
But this is not only about Europe. Today, we also presented a strategic framework for international personal data transfers.
We reiterated our commitment to encouraging data transfers with our partners, businesses or companies based on high personal data protection standards.
Over now to my colleague Věra Jourová to explain more.