The European Union must act fast to create a single digital market or risk losing out to the United States and China in the global arena, the bloc's internal market commissioner said Friday.
"We cannot live in a developing and digitalising world without having one single digital market in Europe," Elzbieta Bienkowska told EU competitiveness ministers gathered in the Latvian capital of Riga for informal talks.
"We do not have time any more to just discuss… now is a time to act," she said.
Bienkowska noted that while US companies have access to resources across the country, IT firms in the EU struggle with access to financing in what she called a "fragmented market".
She said the European Commission would meet on May 6 to finalise its strategy for a single digital market.
It will be part of the wider strategy to create a single European market across all industries, she added.
"The main document for the single market will be proposed by the Commission in November and this will be the Single Market Strategy."
Speaking on the sidelines of the Riga meeting, France's minister for digital affairs, Axelle Lemaire, stressed that the EU needed to work harder to help start-ups and improve access to credit.
"The French government would like the (Jean-Claude) Juncker (investment) plan to include investment tools... so that we can invest at the pan-European level," Lemaire said, referring to the European Commission chief's project aimed at reviving the continent's flagging economy.
"Comparatively, France is the country with the highest number of start-ups, but there is a problem with the sustainability of start-ups," Lemaire said, pointing to new firms having difficulties in accessing financing over one million euros ($1.1 million).