Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D., attended a joint meeting of EU Competitiveness Ministers and Telecoms Ministers in Brussels today. The focus of this important Council of Ministers was on progressing the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy, the flagship blueprint which aims to strengthen Europe’s capacity to thrive in the digital age, for the benefit of consumers and businesses, and to create jobs and growth.
In particular, Minister Mitchell O’Connor and her fellow EU Ministers approved a proposal that will allow EU consumers to access their online subscriptions, such as Netflix and Sky TV, while travelling in the EU on a temporary basis. The Minister said “this consumer friendly measure is important for EU citizens as it will allow them to enjoy movies, premium sports, and other content services to which they have legally subscribed, while away from home, on holidays for example”. The measure is the first important copyright modernisation that has come about under the Commission’s Digital Market Strategy published in May 2015, and the Minister looks forward to further proposals in the copyright area that are expected in September 2016.
Currently, many online streaming and on-demand services are tailored to individual markets with different content available in each Member State. However, under the new Portability Regulation consumers will be able to log in to their own personal accounts while travelling in the EU and continue to view their favourite movies and television shows as if they were at home.
It is hoped that consumers will begin to benefit from this proposal in 2017. The Minister said it is important that EU citizens see tangible benefits emerging from EU legislation, and this proposal, combined with the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges in 2017, represent real improvements in the lives of EU citizens.
While in Brussels, Minister Mitchell O’Connor also held bilateral meetings with Ireland’s EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan, and with her fellow UK Minister for Competitiveness, Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, to discuss priority EU issues for Ireland across the Minister’s portfolio.