The Institute of Directors has given a cautious welcome to the European Commission's Digital Single Market strategy, unveiled today, while warning that a balanced approach to big data which puts simplicity and innovation at the heart of its agenda is crucial for businesses both in Britain and across Europe.
Responding for the IoD, Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy, said:
"Britain has been leading the digital start up revolution in Europe and it is a positive step that the EU is looking to bring in a harmonised framework that will help other countries catch up. Selling online across borders is no longer a novelty for companies, so driving forward a Digital Single Market is crucial.
"Overly complicated rules often deter SMEs from expanding outside of their domestic market, so the EU must ensure any new legislation does not add to the red-tape burden, or stifle the many tech start-ups in Britain for whom big data is the lifeblood of their trade.
"The data protection regulation currently being negotiated could hamper the activity of many of Europe's tech entrepreneurs, while imposing a significant time and resource burden for the hundreds of thousands of businesses who don't deal with data processing on a day to day basis.
"It's heartening to see the Commission has committed to reviewing the current EU VAT arrangements, given the changes which came in earlier this year to place of supply are threatening to shut down scores of micro-enterprises selling digital services online. A sales threshold or exemption to keep these smaller businesses from being over-burdened out of existence is needed.
"Finally, it is imperative that the EU does not seek to compete with the US by introducing regulation or going after American firms in a way that would effectively shut out this much-needed technology and digital investment in Europe. At a time when Brussels is seeking to boost investment in the EU, a policy environment which attracts US capital is crucial."