It has been a busy autumn, culminating last week in the first legal proposals for the Digital Single Market (DSM) - seven months after we published the DSM strategy.

Now, the processes of EU decision-making and political negotiation take over. It is a good feeling to have got things properly moving. There is still a lot more to do, and next year promises to be at least as busy as this one.

Briefly, the first proposal will help e-commerce develop across Europe by providing simple and effective cross-border contract rules for consumers and businesses.

When you download a movie or music, you want to be sure that it plays, wherever you are in Europe – and if not, you should be able to get your money back, easily.

The second proposal is about modernising copyright rules. This will make it easier for people to carry and use their subscribed online music, e-books, games, films, TV series, sport with them, wherever they go in Europe.

At the moment, too many people are tempted into illegal downloads, sometimes because there is no access.

Surveys show that 22% of Europeans think it is acceptable to download or access copyright-protected content illegally when there is no legal alternative in their country – and that 68% of EU film viewers say they use using free downloads.

This is why it is so important to give people a legal alternative, by improving cross-border access – because to put 68% of people in jail is really not a good idea.

You can find more detail about both of these proposals online.

However, they are only the first steps in the DSM strategy.

In 2016, there will be more initiatives to build on the various successes of 2015 - when the EU reached agreement in several areas that are vital for building the DSM. 

The agreement to end roaming surcharges is already a major step forward.

From mid-June 2017, you will pay the same price to use a mobile phone while travelling in the EU as you do at home. This makes sense in a true DSM.

Starting in April 2016, roaming will get cheaper and operators will only be allowed to add on a small amount to domestic prices: up to €0.05 per minute of call made, €0.02 per SMS sent, and €0.05 per MB of data (excluding VAT).

This maximum roaming charge is about 75% cheaper than the roaming caps that now apply to data and calls that people make and pay for.

Then, we agreed to establish net neutrality rules and put this principle into law; we also agreed on the Network and Information Security Directive, which will be the first comprehensive piece of EU legislation on cybersecurity.

Earlier this week, an agreement was found with the European Parliament and EU Member States on reforming the EU's data protection rules.

This last breakthrough is a great end to 2015: a single EU law will improve clarity, provide legal certainty for everyone and benefits businesses and SMEs operating across borders. It will make sure that Europeans are more in control of their data. 

I have also been travelling a lot over the last few months.

After presenting the DSM proposals to the Brussels press corps last week, I went to Berlin to take part in the Bitkom hub conference, giving a speech about digitising industry and the role of startups.

Then, I took part in what is known here as a 'citizens' dialogue'. These are townhall-style meetings that take place in every EU country. They give people the opportunity to speak directly to EU politicians about their rights, the kind of Europe they want to live in, and their expectations for the future of the European Union

In Berlin for citizens dialogue: © European Union, 2015/Source: AFP-Services, EC - Audiovisual Service Photo: Steffi Loos

 

Since I am responsible for creating the Digital Single Market, there was a clear focus on digital matters. I wanted to hear from people about the sort of "digital hurdles" that they come up against, when travelling and when doing business abroad.

And I have just returned from Strasbourg for the year's last plenary session of the European Parliament. Of course, the busy schedule of meetings continues, which you can find regularly updated on my website.

In the meantime, let me wish you the compliments of the festive season.

Thank you for all your support during the year. Another blog soon.

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