DIGITALEUROPE

From the very outset of his first mandate at the helm of the European Commission, President José Manuel Barroso has focused on identifying and treading avenues for growth in Europe. Even more importantly, as a true believer in a borderless Union, President Barroso is a visionary. He has for quite some time pointed to digital technology as being a major part of the solution to Europe’s current economic challenges.

Barroso’s letter to the European Council, “A Plan for Growth in Europe,” dated 27 February 2012, speaks volumes. We must step up our efforts to create a truly Digital Single Market by 2015. The digital economy is expanding rapidly, but cross-border trade remains low and creativity is stifled by a complex web of differing national copyright regimes, it points out.

Barroso is also right to point out to Heads of Government that: Throughout the crisis the European Commission has been working to do everything possible to ensure that the EU emerges stronger than ever from our current difficulties. The effort that has been mobilised by all of us is a very real expression of EU solidarity.

President Barroso’s letter demonstrates that the European Commission has held the right vision from the start. It has also charted priority areas wisely by drafting good policies that can harness the yet untapped growth potential. Take the example of the Digital Single Market: We have just published a study showing that a truly digital single market could boost EU GDP by as much as €110 billion a year,” the letter states.

DIGITALEUROPE throws out the question: do policy makers need a more cogent pointer to where to act at this time of deepening crisis?

DIGITALEUROPE believes that policy makers must today grab the opportunity of such a timely dialogue between the European Commission and Heads of State and Government. We support President Barroso’s call for immediate action to unleash the instant growth potential that a truly Digital Single Market in Europe will deliver.

Copyright is a sticking point that we have to get over. European consumers want to enjoy easy access to their favourite content anytime, anywhere, and on the platform of their choice. Meeting this demand will benefit both users and owners and publishers of content.

It is time to turn the patchwork of twenty seven individual markets into one very big seamless market; the single most affluent market in the world. Europe must do this to remain competitive in the global digital economy which is growing at an explosive speed.

Europe’s copyright regime – which is well past its use by date – is a massive road block to growth and jobs. Territory-specific, hardware-based private copy levies are irrelevant in the borderless digital age. Europe must establish an alternative system that delivers fair and effective compensation to artists, and gives consumers the same benefits of lower prices that people in the United States, for instance, enjoy.

A few enlightened member states have seen this potential and have responded. Member states have the power to be like the catapult crew who signal to pilots at the preparation stage of take-off. They have the power to put momentum behind the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament by demonstrating that we are serious about unleashing economic growth in Europe.

No European citizen or industry should have to accept hampered growth and fewer jobs. A common determination to get rid of obstacles to the Digital Single Market is the key. It is no accident that President Barroso has crafted his letter as a call for action on a well-charted battle ground: Now it’s time to be concrete. Now it’s time to decide.

We agree.

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Please contact, Irena Bednarich, DIGITALEUROPE Vice Chair Digital Economy Group/ Chair of the Copyright Levies group for more information: irena.bednarich@hp.com

 

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