By Jonathan Davies

Catch-up TV services like BBC iPlayer, and ITV Player could become available for British citizens across Europe under the EU’s plans for a “digital single market”.

The European Commission wants to boost the use of online goods and services across the EU. Steps to reduce differences in individual national copyright laws would allow services like iPlayer to be accessed.

“The Commission wants to ensure that users who buy films, music or articles at home can also enjoy them while travelling across Europe,” it said in a statement.

“The Commission will also look at the role of online intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected works.

“[And there will be] a review of the Satellite and Cable Directive to assess if its scope needs to be enlarged to broadcasters’ online transmissions and to explore how to boost cross-border access to broadcasters’ services in Europe.”

In another blow to Google, the report also outlined plans to investigate the effect search engines and social media have on digital markets.

The European Commission said: “This will cover issues such as the non-transparency of search results and of pricing policies, how they use the information they acquire, relationships between platforms and suppliers and the promotion of their own services to the disadvantage of competitors.

“It will also look into how best to tackle illegal content on the internet.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) praised the plans.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: “The strategy is right to focus on the core issues of connectivity, trust and barriers to trade. These are the same issues which frustrate FSB members — acting as a break to trading online and exporting within the EU.

“The strategy has a great many good ideas for how a single digital market could work – such as those to cut data roaming charges and parcel delivery costs. However, challenges remain about delivery given the political constraints. The UK should therefore take a leading role in advocating the economic benefits of the strategy, and in driving these reforms forward. Currently the EC estimates that only seven per cent of small businesses sell across EU borders. Unlocking this pent-up small business potential would boost economic growth across the Continent.”

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