Publié le 09/09/2014

Olivier SICHEL

The United States has established itself as the indisputable global leader in the digital market followed by more interventionist actors such as Russia and China. Europe has fallen behind as it struggles to find its place in this crucial sector. The new European Commission must respond and provide Europe with tools to compete with the market's more dominant actors. 

Digital technologies impact almost all sectors of the global economy today. The United States – with giant corporations like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft (a.k.a. “GAFAM”) – has an overwhelming digital presence when it comes to online research, e-commerce, operating systems and platforms. Additionally, control over the content of websites participates in the country’s soft power.

Contrary to countries like China or Russia, Europe has not endowed any of its nations with the proper tools to fully take part in this digital revolution. Due to the almost exclusive power of American actors in the digital field, Europe is now struggling to develop a market that is key for future economic growth and prosperity. The exponential nature of digital growth allows companies to keep on increasing the gap with the latecomers in the field, making it ever more difficult for countries in Europe to catch up on the American Giant.

Yet, Europe is no longer ready to stand idly by while the United States and the rest of the world share the profits of the digital market. Suffering from large-scale tax evasion, regulations bypass and excessive levy from American intermediaries, the new European Commission seems inclined to react. Having so far chosen to take the arduous and often ineffective path of negotiation rather than the long-established litigation, the European Commission should:

  • First, give back to the member states of the European Union the ability to manage conflicts through litigation if necessary. Restricting access to personal data or lifting the ceiling on fines could prove effective sanctions.
  • Eliminate tax evasion through a joint European response. Indeed, an effective regulation of the sector should allow the European Union to economically profit from the Digital Revolution.

This content is available in French : "L'échiquier numérique américain: Quelle place pour l'Europe?" [1]