21. červen 2016 / Jana Adamcová

e.Czech - e.law - E.urope

Neither Czech nor European administration is hostile. After all, demonopolization and liberalization of energy, transport or telecommunication enviroment had good influence on both customers and companies.

Cheaper roaming charges were welcome by public as well. European Union is just trying to protect customers. In this political context are the companies needs not at Nr. 1 priority. That does not mean that the administration doesn't want to listen to rational arguments and to talk to the digital sector companies about how to balance the companies and customer needs and priorities. In order to do this, being active is necessary.

Regulatory tornado

Due to rapid technological development the European institutions puts under increasing pressure the Czech digital market. It is European Commission who generates more and more regulations and directives.  Rules to make cross-border e-commerce easier, enforcing consumers rules, more efficient and affordable parcel delivery, ending unjustified geo-blocking, launching an antitrust competition inquiry into e-commerce, new copyright framework, reducing VAT burdens, a review of the audiovisual media framework, an analysis of the role of online platforms or cybersecurity rules, that all is in for the Czech digital market.

Besides European regulation there is an increating number of local acts that ignore their impact on online business. Often fatal mistakes happen, such as the recent Gambling Act. Although most of the new European directives concern the traditional industries as well,  the focus is mainly on digital companies. They can react differently. First, very natural reaction, is protest, since the Internet is a place of 100% global unregulated competition and one cannot pretend that online competition can be closed to state borders. But is a refusal of this reality still a good solution?

State administration and digital world

There are many reasons for mistakes and shuffle of clerks and politicians in the field of domestic regulation towards digital industry. Firstly, state administration doesn't comprehend the needs of digital companies. However, it is very relevant to pose a question if this situation is not a fault of the very digital companies. Frankly, they don't show any sings of consistent and elaborated education on their needs. Results of this lack of engagement can be seen in other fields than just in legislation. The national education programs weren't adapted to the newest technologies and knowledge. The question is: Will the Czech digital market believe in another twenty years to come that the state administration will do better without its engagement and collaboration?

Secondly, the digital market is extremely fragmented and individual digital players hardly search a common agreement. Thus regulators and law makers are showered with tens of heterogeneous and mutually unrelated and conflicting demands that lead to a Babylonian chaos. In the tangle of ad hoc causes are getting lost the long-term questions of digital sector existence: well planned and negotiated legislation, well adjusted educational system or early reaction to the European regulation.

Opportunity instead of risk

So far it seems that a very "no" is enough. However, the results for digital sektor is sad. The legislation mostly doesn't reflect the needs of digital companies, let alone to help their development. Someone else that digital companies dictates  conditions for development of digital sector: international companies or other industries who deal with their interests as we could observe in the Gambling Act.

Of course there are events where this is not the case - many associations and alliances take up some of the topics from time to time. But these are particularities that lack a long-term logic and their results are merely attemps to prevent a catastrophy, not reason to celebration... In a nutshell, the digital market loses to the state administration and politics. And it is time to admit thah it would be much more pragmatic to search opportunities in the legislation to come rather than be a passive spectator of a game that one refuses to influence.

Author: Jana Adamcová

Evropská unie
Digitální ekonomika