This is not the message that the European Commission would like to give, but it is what comes across. Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, speaking in Copenhagen last Thursday, gave his priorities for the European internal market for 2012. He called it the “Single Market 2.0”. In summary, he wants reliable online payment systems that can equally be trusted to black payments on request, in respect of mis-behaving music and film download sites.
Michel Barnier was speaking at a conference entitled One Europe - One Market, organised by the Danish Presidency. He gave three examples of his vision for “Single Market 2.0". They were: to ensure, a reliable payment and delivery system, improve e-procurement, and protect intellectual property rights online.
Michel Barnier said: “We need to make sure that the Internet boosts creation, consumers demand and cultural diversity. 500 online music services in Europe: that is good news. We must make sure that there will be more and that legitimate business models are protected from free riders. We need to focus on financial circuits associated with piracy and to ease access to justice for right holders. “
“Focus on financial circuits associated with piracy “ means that he wants to target payment services and prevent them taking money in cases where the is an allegation of copyright infringement. “Ease of access to justice for rights-holders” is new code for web blocking measures, which may include using payment services to block.
Commissioner Barnier claims that his vision will spearhead a new Single Market for 20 year olds who were born in 1992. This is the same year that the Single Market was founded.
In 1992, Europe’s internal borders were opened up. For the first time trucks carrying physical goods could pass from one country to another without going through customs. At the time it was very exciting for industry, which could for the reduce its costs and ship goods more efficiently. The Single Market paved the way for the pan-European telecoms systems such as GSM mobile phones and indeed, the Internet. In this respect, we have the Single Market to thank for the open Internet and all of economic and social benefits which it brings.
The blocking of sites and services runs precisely contrary to the aims of the Single Market. Blocking the Internet threatens to break up the Single Market, ruining 20 years of hard work by the Commission.
The irony is that the 20 year olds who Mr Barnier claims to be working for, are probably marching in the streets of Europe next Saturday against ACTA and the kinds of blocking measures which Mr Barnier wants to introduce.
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