Michel BARNIER:Licences for Europe: quality content and new opportunities for all Europeans in the digital era

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Launch of the initiative “Licences for Europe”

Brussels, 4 February 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank each and every one of you for attending the launch of the “Licences for Europe” initiative, for which Neelie Kroes, Androulla Vassiliou and myself have great hopes.

Within your various fields, you represent authors and artists, collecting societies, editors or producers, media groups and also Web entrepreneurs, Internet platforms or online service operators and, lastly, consumers.

You are therefore aware of the major challenges and the considerable opportunities offered by the Internet for the European creation of content and its maximum distribution.

The Internet provides an incomparable showcase for European content – from music to films, and from video games to newspapers – which is world-renowned for its high quality. This content generates no fewer than 6.7 million jobs in Europe. European global leaders, and also a myriad of small- and medium-sized businesses.

The Web offers enormous potential for promoting the cultural wealth and diversity of our continent. It makes access to our content immediately possible at any time, in any place, and constantly pushes back the limits of the possible in terms of quality and experience.

However, the Internet also presents a challenge for those who create such content in their work, or who make it possible and accessible by means of their investments. The challenge is to establish new models of use and distribution which allow the creativity, efforts made and risks taken to be appropriately rewarded.

This content forms the basis of the value chain in the Internet ecosystem. Without such content, distributors such as Google or iTunes, Deezer or Spotify would lose much of their appeal. And in saying that, I do not mean to minimise the incredible source of innovation and new services which these distributors have been and continue to be.

What are the key issues here?

  • The Internet must offer Europeans the widest possible access to the quality content which they are so eager to have;
  • However, the digital universe must also give rise to new forms of contractual relations between the various stakeholders contributing to its development;
  • Web entrepreneurs must also be able to draw on the single market to launch innovative services;
  • Lastly, a good level of legal certainty must be guaranteed for Internet users who tap into its creative potential and for content distributors.

At present, these objectives are far from being achieved.

Let me take just one example, perhaps the most revealing one: that of Europeans all too often frustrated by lack of online access to the diversity of content offered in other Member States, even though they would be prepared to pay for it!

They are frequently refused access to certain sites or are redirected to their national sites, when such sites exist!

Whether they are consumers, entrepreneurs or investors, it is incomprehensible that Europeans are coming up against obstacles online which they have been dismantling in the physical world for more than 50 years. Here to read more.

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