Tech, telcos, and digital crusties gang up against the EU's Digital Single Market

Erm, maybe Europe has bigger problems right now?

Wait, this'll mean more free stuff!

One by one, Ansip was losing his supporters. Surely the Open Rights Group, which has never seen a copyright law it didn’t want to weaken or abolish, would rally to the commissioner’s side?

Not so. Javier Ruiz Diaz, the group’s policy director, urged Ansip to “look at everything else but geoblocking”.

If the soap-dodgers and permanent students who cluster around the "digital rights" cause don’t agree with Ansip, who does? (Answer: Either the Lonely Pirate Julia Reda, or “almost nobody”).

A withering explanation of why Brussels bureaucrats get it wrong came from both the Premier League and the Motion Picture Association, who blamed out-of-touch elites.

“It’s about a desire to promote a European-ness,” suggested Bill Bush for the Premier League. “The Europe the politicians want is not the Europe we have got.”

In other words, EU commissioners and their Eurocrats live in a bubble.

The numbers showed only a tiny demand for cross-border material among ordinary people, with 2.7 per cent of Europeans trying to access AV across borders according to the EU’s own data, quietly sneaked out on the quietest Friday of the year.

But “45 per cent of white-collar jobs in Brussels” wanted to do so. Most of this taxpayer-funded elite lives far from home – so no wonder they miss their home TV.

Bush explained that nobody had wanted the pan-European license the Premier League had on the table, because licensees knew their punters better, and each country had different desires about what it wanted to see. They wanted to choose different matches, and have different pre-rolls.

People might lambast the football clubs for greed, but they bring home £2.4bn in tax and they sustain 100,000 jobs in the UK. Bush also castigated a lack of empirical support for the change – how many net jobs would the Robo Commish’s proposals create, if any?

Rights-based industries face “relentless” calls for evidence while the soap-dodger digital hippies seemingly never have to produce any.

Motion Picture Association president Stan McCoy mocked Europe’s tinkering with digital trade, when faced with much bigger issues – such as the biggest migration since the Second World War – as a utopian escapist fantasy. With so much of the top-down European project going up in flames, "digital" has become a displacement activity, he thought. And McCoy chose to say out loud what everyone else is thinking:

“They may not be able to rescue migrants from the sea. They may not be able to stand up to President Putin. They may not be able to find jobs for 50 per cent of young people who are unemployed. But they can offer you a marvellous digital future!”

He said that modern European “elites” tend to feel a sense of entitlement to intervene and dispense regulatory largesse. Much of that “regulatory largesse” was evident in the Digital Single Market ambitions.

With even digital rights groups deserting Ansip, what’s left of the DSM exercise may now be mainly about saving face.

At least, nothing will happen soon. Proposals will take two to four years to get through the machinery – more likely four than two, according to former MEP Baroness Ludford, chairing. Then it has to limp through national parliaments, followed by implementation. It’s anyone’s guess which parts of the EU will exist in their current form by 2021, when the glorious Digital Single Market tinkering might eventually end up becoming law. ®

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