March 5, 2018 // 10:49 a.m.
Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will not be part of the European Union's Digital Single Market following the completion of the 'Brexit' process, removing recently- and soon-to-be-introduced benefits including the abolition of mobile roaming fees and restrictions on retailer geo-blocking.
The European Digital Single Market - the digital equivalent, if the name weren't clue enough, of the EU Single Market for physical commerce - has brought a range of benefits including the abolition of mobile roaming charges and rules designed to prevent 'geo-blocking' due to go into force this December. Unfortunately, it appears that the UK will not be benefiting from these or any other Digital Single Market regulations going forward.
'On digital, the UK will not be part of the EU’s Digital Single Market, which will continue to develop after our withdrawal from the EU,' confirmed Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech made late last week. 'This is a fast evolving, innovative sector, in which the UK is a world leader. So it will be particularly important to have domestic flexibility, to ensure the regulatory environment can always respond nimbly and ambitiously to new developments.'
That 'domestic flexibility', however, is likely to hit consumers right in the pockets: Activated only in 2017, the ban on mobile roaming charges allows users across the European Union to use their mobile call and data allowances in any other EU nation without additional charges, while out-of-allowance usage is charged as though they were in their home nation. The impending rules on geo-blocking, meanwhile, prevent companies operating in more than one European nation from redirecting customers elsewhere - meaning that if a product is cheaper in France than Italy, the company's French website mustn't force Italian visitors to the Italian site.
In the same speech, May committed to 'a United Kingdom which is a cradle for innovation; a leader in the industries of the future; a champion of free trade, based on high standards; a modern, outward-looking, tolerant country, proud of our values and confident of our place in the world', though failed to detail exactly how this would be achieved.