Music rights holders appear to be close to an agreement for creating an environment where only one licensing agreement is necessary to sell music online throughout the continent. Companies currently have to strike agreements with licensing organizations in each individual nation.

That’s why there are several iTunes online stores, such as iTunes UK and iTunes France instead of just one serving all of Europe. In order to bring iTunes to Europe, Apple had to negotiate licensing agreements with each host country.

But having to ink music licensing contracts with each country could soon become yesterday’s digital history. European Union antitrust regulators recently told the music industry it must move quickly and change existing licensing methods.

Although Internet music sales in the United States have yet to make up for lost CD income, European sales are much lower than their Yankee brethren, with individual licensing rules & regs catching most of the blame.

This isn’t the first time the EU has urged changes in music licensing. Last July the EU’s executive body – the European Commission – told those in charge of collecting royalties to end a system of contracts permitting artists to collect payments only from an agency based in their own country.

But the European Commission was concerned with more than iTunes having to duplicate its efforts for every European country it wants to do business in. The EC found 24 European collecting societies guilty of breaking EU antitrust rules, but did not issue any fines.

Now the idea of a one-stop licensing shop is gaining more momentum. French performing rights organization Sacem said it’s willing to allow other organizations license its song catalog on a Europe-wide basis. Ditto for EMI Group, with the record label saying it’s ready to allow rights organizations to administer its catalog throughout Europe.