“Is Europe the Real ‘Digital Champion’ of the 21st Century? Towards a Sustainable Model for the Global (Digital) Economy”
On October 18, I attended a lecture by Andrea Glorioso, a member of the EU Digital Economy Delegation to the US, as a part of OU’s ‘Germany Week.’ Here is what I learned & some questions that this fantastic lecture left me with.
One misconception that I had about the EU before last Wednesday was that the growth of the digital world would help to make a more united Europe. I assumed that more efficient communications and widespread use of the Internet would bring European countries closer together and give citizens more access to the institutions of the EU. However, while the EU may benefit from the above developments, it is surely being hurt by another byproduct of the digital age– online shopping. Mr. Glorioso said that when viewing the numbers of online purchasing in Europe, 70% of orders were with a company of the same nationality as the shopper, while only 4% of orders crossed national European borders. He then explained one reason why: an online business of one country can view the IP address of a shopper and charge more if the shopper is from a different European country.
Online purchases in which the seller has access to a trove of customer information enable racial and national bias. Although this action pales in comparison to more grave instances of racism and division, it nonetheless proves the existence of values contrary to the European dream of unity. Not to mention, it also hinders the flow of business and goods among European countries. It is startling to reformulate my view of the Internet as a tool for positive social change (overall) to a real challenge to the economy and unity of the EU. I’m sure there are other elements of “going digital” that have hurt the EU in some way (such as the dissemination of “fake,” Euro-skeptic news), as well.
With the above conclusion in mind, I would like to ask what power the EU has to prevent online businesses from this kind of price changing. Depending on what legal power the EU possesses or how it would have to approach solving this, is there currently any talk of or even work occurring on legislation for this issue?