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A strong digital infrastructure is a key factor in supporting Europe’s cultural and creative sector, according to Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels to update Culture Committee on the Commission’s work, Kroes said that with Europe facing difficult times, the creative industries and cultural content have a very strong role to play, supporting the economy, with the creative industries representing 5 million jobs and 2.6 per cent of EU GDP.
“First, so many aspects of our lives are increasingly going online: entertainment, culture and creativity are no different. Let’s remember the opportunities and challenges of the digital revolution for the cultural sector,” she said, suggesting that film heritage was an area where much was needed to be done. “Our third application report, due shortly, will show that 85 per cent of European film heritage is out-of-commerce, and hence not accessible. While 98.5 per cent is not digitised; still locked in its metal cans when it could be online and available to all,” she advised.
She reiterated earlier warnings about falling behind global partners and stressed the need to build the right framework that helps the creative sector in the digital age, making it easier to access legal online content, making the copyright system fit for the digital age, and really helping artists make the most out of online opportunities.
She suggested that one way to support the creative industries was to look at each subsector — film, books, TV and so on — separately. “But for me, that’s not enough. In many ways, the best way to help the creative sector is to provide digital infrastructure: the networks and frameworks that support a digital society. Provide that infrastructure, and amazing innovation will follow. For this sector just as in others,” she declared.
“Imagine, for example, if your favourite films, books and music were stored somewhere in a locker in the cloud. Accessible to you, legally, instantly and on-demand, over a fast network, wherever you are and on whatever device. Imagine what an advantage that would be for our creative industries; and for our citizens,” she said.
Kroes said she would go further. “Because, alongside the broadband networks, we also need the right frameworks. Frameworks to build trust – like removing barriers to cloud computing, giving our Single Market a new, online home. And a framework to build a better Internet for kids, so that children can have a safe and fun time online.”
In addition, she said a framework was needed where it was easier to legally access online content, “making use of all the benefits of our Single Market. Our proposed directive to reform licensing rules is a good first step. And we also need to address other pressing issues, like making it easier to access audiovisual works online, including across borders. And making our copyright framework more modern and less fragmented,” she suggested.
Kroes said that the review of the digital agenda would refocus on some key areas needed to stimulate Europe’s digital economy. “Namely: high speed broadband, cloud computing, Internet security, entrepreneurship and skills, online content and services and research and innovation.”
According to Kroes, for the remaining decision makers, the final question was: ‘How can we work together to show them that this is an economically essential investment?’
“Because we will best support the cultural and creative industry, and every other industry, if we build a connected, competitive continent,” she concluded.