At a recent occasion, Vice President Ansip made specific comments on the potential of digital start ups to generate growth:
“[Startups] generate a huge amount of digital innovation, responding to business and consumer needs. Take the EU app economy: in 2013, it generated revenues of €17.5 billion, a figure expected to rise to some €60 billion by 2018. Its workforce is projected to increase from 1.8 million people employed today to reach 4.8 million over the same period. So this is only the start. Our smaller tech companies could urgently do with some help: fewer obstacles, and more freedom to innovate and scale up in Europe. They need to be able to take full advantage of their potential. They need a flexible and supportive business environment – to grow fast and across borders; to test ideas and not be punished for having tried.”
Reading through the amendments that have been tabled in the Parliament and will soon be voted, these three thoughts come to mind:
Keep it simple
When it comes to regulating the digital economy, over-complicated or convoluted rules can have an outsized impact on startups who vary significantly in size and sophistication across the European Union. We want our startup entrepreneurs to have the time to focus on growing and innovating their core-business. It is for this reason that we urge the rapporteurs to support amendments which seek to simplify and streamline the DSM proposals in order to make them more flexible and workable for start ups across the continent. We need more engineers to start working at our companies, instead of lawyers. For startups to be able to compete successfully on a global connected marketplace scale is of the essence. Rigid and inflexible rules force startups to move and scale outside the EU.
We welcome the support contained in both the original draft and in many subsequent amendments supporting an open, free and expressive online environment which protect online intermediaries, many of whom operate in the startup space, from excessive and unfair liability for content hosted or listed on their services. This will require some tough choices that may upend some existing business models, but regulations should always be about protecting consumers from harms, not incumbents from competition.
Startups are platforms too
Finally, we would like to state our support to those MEPs that highlighted the difficulties for startups in creating a so-called “general platform regulation”. We believe that any such proposal could have a disproportionate impact on startups many of whom are small and medium businesses operating in dynamic and multi sided markets. We believe instead in tackling issues on a case-by-case basis making full us of self-regulatory and co-regulatory tools where necessary and appropriate.