Tag Archives: ScientificStrategy

Text adopted – Towards a digital trade strategy – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0488 – Tuesday, 12 December 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 207(3) and 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS),

–  having regard to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA),

–  having regard to the WTO Work Programme on E-commerce,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration by G7 ICT Ministers at the Meeting in Takamatsu, Kagawa on 29 and 30 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Declaration on the Digital Economy in Cancun in 2016,

–  having regard to the Dynamic Coalition on Trade at the Internet Governance Forum,

–  having regard to the ongoing EU trade negotiations with third countries,

–  having regard to the agreement in principle announced by the Commission on 6 July 2017 on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement,

–  having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce)(1)
,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(2)
,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2015 entitled ‘Trade for All: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 entitled ‘Digitising European Industry’ (COM(2016)0180),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 entitled ‘European Cloud Initiative – Building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe’ (COM(2016)0178),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 23 June 2017 on trade and investment barriers (COM(2017)0338),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 January 2017 entitled ‘Building A European Data Economy’ (COM(2017)0009),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (COM(2017)0010),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 13 September 2017 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union (COM(2017)0495),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 2 May 2017 entitled ‘Digital4Development: mainstreaming digital technologies and services into EU Development Policy’ (SWD(2017)0157),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(3)
,

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2016 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)(4)
,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)(5)
,

–  having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–  having regard to the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10 to 13 December 2017, where e-commerce is likely to be discussed,

–  having regard to the UN International Telecommunication Union’s initiatives in support of Developing Countries (ITU-D),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 8(1) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and to Article 16(1) of the TFEU,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of freedom of speech on Freedom of Expression and the private sector in the digital age (A/HRC/32/38) and on the role of digital access providers (A/HRC/35/22),

–  having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted by the Council (Foreign Affairs) on 12 May 2014,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, European Treaty Series No 108, and the additional protocol thereto,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on transatlantic data flows(6)
,

–  having regard to the Commission report to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the Trade Policy Strategy Trade for All – Delivering a Progressive Trade Policy to Harness Globalisation (COM(2017)0491).

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0384/2017),

A.  whereas technological developments, access to the open internet and the digitalisation of the economy are an engine for growth as they enable companies particularly start-ups, micro-enterprises and SMEs, to create new opportunities in developing, ordering, producing, marketing or delivering products and services, and to reach customers all over the globe at a faster pace and lower cost than ever before; whereas emerging technologies such as distributed ledger technology have the potential to enhance digital trade by improving the transparency of international contracts and expediting the transfer of value; whereas trade in physical goods has been replaced by increasing amounts of cross-border transfers of digital content, sometimes blurring the distinction between goods and services;

B.  whereas data collection, data aggregation and the ability to transfer data across borders has the potential to be a key driver of innovation, productivity and economic competitiveness;

C.  whereas the globalisation and digitalisation of our economies and of international trade have enabled businesses to grow and provided economic opportunities for citizens; whereas the digitalisation of traditional industries affects supply chains, manufacturing and services models, which could lead to job creation in new industries, but could also disrupt current jobs and lead to precarious working conditions as more and more tasks traditionally performed by humans are either automated or off-shored, or both; stresses in this regard that the necessary social flanking measures must be put in place for them to benefit the whole society, such as strong education and training policies, active labour market policies and measures to overcome the digital divide;

D.  whereas the digital economy requires a rules-based framework, including modern trade rules which can reconcile the rapid changes in the market with the rights of consumers, providing the policy space and room for new regulatory initiatives needed by governments to defend and strengthen the protection of human rights;

E.  whereas access to a free, open and secure internet is a prerequisite for rules-based trade and development in the digital economy; whereas the principle of net neutrality should be a key part of the EU’s digital trade strategy in order to allow for fair competition and innovation in the digital economy, while ensuring freedom of speech online;

F.  whereas investment in infrastructure and access to skills remain key challenges to connectivity and, therefore, digital trade;

G.  whereas the UN’s SDGs stress that providing universal and affordable access to the internet for people in least developed countries by 2020 will be crucial for fostering development, as the development of a digital economy could be a driver of jobs and growth, e-commerce being one opportunity to increase the numbers of small exporters, export volumes and export diversification;

H.  whereas women can benefit as entrepreneurs and as workers from better access to global markets, and as consumers from lower prices, whereas many challenges and inequalities still hinder women’s participation in the global economy, as many of women in low- and middle-income countries, still have no access to the internet;

I.  whereas e-commerce is also booming in developing countries;

J.  whereas governments around the world are engaging in digital protectionism by putting up barriers that hinder market access and direct investment, or create unfair advantages for domestic companies; whereas a number of broad measures in third countries taken in the name of national (cyber)security have an increasingly negative impact on trade in ICT products;

K.  whereas foreign companies currently benefit from far greater access to the European market than Europeans do to third countries; whereas many of our trade partners are increasingly closing their domestic markets and resorting to digital protectionism; whereas the EU should anchor its digital trade strategy in the principles of reciprocity, fair competition, smart regulation and transparency with a view to restoring consumers’ trust and restoring a level playing field for businesses;

L.  whereas geo-blocking should be put to an end and no forms of unjustified discrimination based on a customer’s nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market should take place in the future;

M.  whereas the building blocks that preserve the open internet in the EU’s digital single market, including principles such as fair competition, net neutrality and intermediary liability protections, should be promoted in all trade negotiations; whereas the global dimension of digital trade makes the WTO the natural venue for the negotiation of a rule-based multilateral framework; whereas the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017 provides the platform for launching such a process;

N.  whereas the European Union is bound by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including Article 8 thereof on the right to the protection of personal data, by Article 16 TFEU on the same fundamental right, and by Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU); whereas the right to privacy is a universal human right; whereas high data protection standards help to build trust in the digital economy among European citizens and thus foster the development of digital trade; whereas promoting high data protection standards, in particular as regards sensitive data, and facilitating international trade must go hand in hand in the digital era, in order to support freedom of expression and information, e-commerce, and encryption, and to reject digital protectionism, mass surveillance, cyber espionage and online censorship;

O.  whereas digital trade must protect endangered wildlife species, and whereas online market places must ban the sale of wildlife and wildlife products on their platforms;

P.  whereas private companies are increasingly setting norms and standards in the digital economy, which will have a direct impact on citizens and consumers, as well as on domestic and international trade and at the same time accelerate the development of technological solutions to safeguard business and customers;

Q.  whereas the OECD recommendations against base erosion and profit shifting and the EU’s plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base have highlighted the need to address a number of tax challenges, including those posed by the digital economy; whereas taxes should be paid where profits are made; whereas a more transparent, efficient and fair system for calculating the tax base of cross-border companies should prevent profit shifting and tax avoidance; whereas a coherent EU approach to taxation in the digital economy is necessary to achieve fair and effective taxation of all companies and to create a level playing field; recalls that trade agreements should include a clause on tax good governance that reaffirms the parties’ commitment to implementing agreed international standards in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance;

R.  whereas, according to the OECD, up to 5 % of goods imported into the EU are counterfeited, resulting in substantial losses in jobs and tax revenues;

S.  whereas sensitive sectors such as audio-visual services, and fundamental rights such as the protection of personal data, should not be subject to trade negotiations;

T.  whereas digital trade must also aim to promote the growth of SMEs and start-ups, and not only that of multinationals;

U.  whereas Mexico fulfils the conditions for accession to Council of Europe Convention No 108 on data protection;

V.  whereas the protection of personal data is non-negotiable in trade agreements, and whereas data protection has always been excluded from EU trade negotiation mandates;

W.  whereas trade agreements can be a lever to improve digital rights; whereas the inclusion of provisions on net neutrality, a ban on forced unjustified data localisation requirements, data security, security of data processing and data storage, encryption and intermediary liability in trade agreements can strengthen, in particular, the protection of freedom of speech;

1.  Underlines that the EU, as a community of values and the world’s biggest exporter of services, should set the standards in international rules and agreements on digital trade flows based on three elements: (1) ensuring market access for digital goods and services in third countries, (2) ensuring that trade rules create tangible benefits for consumers and (3) ensuring and promoting respect for fundamental rights;

2.  Stresses the need to bridge the digital divide in order to minimise potential negative social and development impacts; underlines, in this regard, the importance of promoting female participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), of removing barriers to lifelong learning, and of closing gender gaps in access to and in the use of new technologies; calls on the Commission to explore further how current trade policy and gender equality are linked and how trade can promote women’s economic empowerment;

3.  Notes that the network effect of the digital economy enables one company or a small number of companies to hold a large market share, which could lead to excessive market concentration; stresses the importance of promoting fair and effective competition in trade agreements, in particular between digital service providers such as online platforms, and users such as micro-enterprises, SMEs and start-ups, and of promoting consumer choice, reducing transaction costs, ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of all market players and avoiding the creation of dominant positions that distort the markets; stresses, in this context, the importance of including net neutrality as a key part of its digital trade strategy; considers that a digital trade strategy must be complemented by a reinforced and effective international framework for competition policy, including by increased cooperation between competition authorities and strong competition chapters in trade agreements; calls on the Commission to ensure that businesses and companies comply with competition rules and that there is no discrimination against competitors to the detriment of consumers’ interests;

4.  Stresses that access to secure broadband internet connectivity and digital payment methods, effective consumer protection, in particular redress mechanisms for online cross-border sales, and predictable customs procedures, are essential elements in relation to enabling digital trade, sustainable development and inclusive growth;

5.  Considers that trade agreements should provide for increased cooperation between consumer protection agencies and welcomes initiatives to foster consumer trust-enhancing measures in trade negotiations, such as disciplines on electronic signatures and contracts and unsolicited communications; highlights that the rights of consumers must be protected and must not in any event be diluted;

6.  Underlines that SMEs in developing countries make up the majority of businesses and employ the majority of manufacturing and service sector workers; recalls that facilitating cross-border e-commerce can have a direct impact on improving livelihoods, fostering higher living standards and boosting economic development;

7.  Recalls that nothing in trade agreements shall prevent the EU and its Member States from maintaining, improving and applying its data protection rules; recalls that personal data can be transferred to third countries without using general disciplines in trade agreements when the requirements – both at present and in the future – enshrined in Chapter IV of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(7)
and in Chapter V of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, are fulfilled; recognises that adequacy decisions, including partial and sector-specific ones, constitute a fundamental mechanism in terms of safeguarding the transfer of personal data from the EU to a third country; notes that the EU has only adopted adequacy decisions with four of its 20 largest trading partners; recalls the importance of guaranteeing, in particular through adequacy dialogues, the transfer of data from third countries to the EU;

8.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise and speed up the adoption of adequacy decisions, provided that third countries ensure, by reason of their domestic law or their international commitments, a level of protection ‘essentially equivalent’ to that guaranteed within the EU; calls on the Commission to adopt, and to make public, updated and detailed binding procedures with a specific timeframe for reaching these decisions, while fully respecting the powers of national supervisory authorities and the opinion of Parliament;

9.  Recalls that the ability to access, collect, process and transfer data across borders has become increasingly important for every type of company that delivers goods and services internationally; notes that this matters for both personal and non-personal data and includes machine-to-machine communication;

10.  Urges the Commission to draw up rules for cross-border data transfers as soon as possible which fully comply with the EU’s existing and future data protection and privacy rules; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to incorporate into the EU’s trade agreements a horizontal provision, which fully maintains the right of a party to protect personal data and privacy, provided that such a right is not unjustifiably used to circumvent rules for cross-border data transfers for reasons other than the protection of personal data; considers that such rules and provisions should form part of all new and recently launched trade negotiations with third countries; stresses that any disciplines in this regard should be exempted from the scope of application of any future chapter dealing with investment protection;

11.  Calls on the Commission to strictly prohibit unjustified data localisation requirements in free trade agreements (FTAs); considers that the removal of such requirements should be a top priority, and emphasises that the relevant data protection legislation should be adhered to; regrets attempts to use such requirements as a form of non-tariff barrier to trade and as a form of digital protectionism; considers that such protectionism seriously hampers opportunities for European businesses in third country markets and undermines the efficiency benefits of digital trade;

12.  Calls on the Commission to put forward, as soon as possible, its position on cross-border data transfers, unjustified data localisation requirements, and data protection safeguards in trade negotiations, in line with Parliament’s position, so as to include it in all new and recently launched negotiations and to avoid the EU being sidelined in international trade negotiations;

13.  Calls on the Commission to combat measures by third countries, such as ‘buy local’ policies, local content requirements or forced technology transfers, to the extent that they are not justified by UN-led programmes on closing the digital divide or TRIPS-related exceptions, so as to ensure that European companies can operate in a fair and predictable environment;

14.  Stresses that the EU should continue to pursue its efforts at bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral level to ensure that third countries offer a level of openness towards foreign investments equivalent to that of the EU, and that they maintain a level playing field for EU operators; welcomes the EU’s proposal for a regulation establishing a framework for review of foreign direct investments into the Union and supports its objectives to better protect critical infrastructures and technologies;

15.  Underlines that a digital trade strategy must be fully in line with the principle of net neutrality and safeguard the equal treatment of internet traffic, without discrimination, restriction or interference, irrespective of its sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application; recalls, moreover, that traffic management measures should be permitted only in exceptional cases where they are strictly necessary, and only for as long as necessary, to comply with legal requirements, preserve the integrity and security of the network or prevent impending network congestion;

16.  Strongly deplores third country practices which make market access conditional on the disclosure and transfer to state authorities of the source codes of the software that companies intend to sell; considers that such measures are disproportionate as a blanket requirement for market access; calls on the Commission to prohibit signatory governments to FTAs from engaging in such activities; stresses that the foregoing should not prevent state authorities from promoting transparency of software, encouraging the public disclosure of source code through free and open-source software, as well as sharing data through open data licenses;

17.  Recalls that in some cases local presence requirements are necessary to ensure effective prudential supervision or regulatory oversight and enforcement; reiterates its call on the Commission, therefore, to undertake limited commitments in Mode 1, so as to avoid regulatory arbitrage;

18.  Notes that pro-development technology transfer requirements should not be ruled out by disciplines on digital trade;

19.  Calls on the Commission to prohibit third country authorities from requiring the disclosure or transfer of details of the (cryptographic) technology used in products as a condition of manufacturing, selling or distributing these products;

20.  Notes that the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights and investments in R&D are a precondition on the EU’s knowledge-based economy, and that international cooperation is key to combating the trade in counterfeited goods throughout the entire value chain; encourages the Commission, therefore, to push for the worldwide implementation of international standards such as the WTO TRIPS Agreement and the WIPO Internet Treaties; recalls that legal protection throughout the EU, both online and offline, is needed for new creations since it will encourage investment and lead to further innovations; stresses, however, that trade agreements are not the place to extend the level of IP-protection for rights holders by providing for more extensive copyright enforcement powers; stresses that access to medicines in third countries should not be challenged on the basis of IP protection; stresses that trade in counterfeited goods requires a distinctly different approach to IP infringements in the digital economy;

21.  Exhorts the Commission to keep a close eye on ICANN’s gTLD Program, which expands domain names to thousands of generic names, and to guarantee, in line with its commitment to a free and open internet, the protection of rights holders, in particular those relating to geographical indications;

22.  Calls on the Commission to use trade agreements to prevent parties from imposing foreign equity caps, to lay down pro-competitive wholesale access rules for incumbent operators’ networks, to provide transparent and non-discriminatory rules and fees for licensing, and to secure genuine access to last-mile infrastructures in export markets for EU telecom providers; recalls that rule-based competition in the telecommunications sector leads to higher quality services and lower prices;

23.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts towards developing a set of binding multilateral disciplines on e-commerce in the WTO, and to continue focusing on concrete and realistic deliverables;

24.  Calls on the Commission to urgently re-launch TiSA negotiations in line with Parliament’s adopted recommendations; espouses the view that the EU should seize the window of opportunity to take the lead to set state-of-the art global digital standards;

25.  Recalls that, since 1998, members of the WTO have upheld a moratorium on tariffs on electronic transmissions; stresses that such tariffs would entail unnecessary additional costs for businesses and consumers alike; calls on the Commission to transform the moratorium into a permanent agreement on banning tariffs on electronic transmissions, subject to careful analysis of the implications in the area of 3D printing;

26.  Calls on the Commission to use trade agreements to promote the interoperability of ICT standards that benefit both consumers and producers, notably in the context of a secure Internet of things, 5G and cybersecurity, while not circumventing legitimate fora for multi-stakeholder governance which have served the open internet well;

27.  Considers that particular consideration should be given to the increasing number of consumers and individuals who are selling and buying items on the internet and are caught up in burdensome customs procedures for goods purchased online; recalls the need to put in place simplified, tax- and duty-free customs treatment of items sold online and returns unused; recalls that the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to speed up customs procedures and improve their accountability and transparency; stresses the need to digitise customs information and management via online registration and operation of information, which should facilitate clearance at the border, cooperation in fraud detection, anti-corruption efforts and transparency of prices relating to customs; believes that the broader use of tools such as online dispute settlements would be beneficial for consumers;

28.  Calls on the Commission to encourage signatories of trade agreements to include, in the telecommunications chapter of their FTAs, provisions making both international roaming fees and the fees applied to international calls and messages transparent, fair, reasonable and consumer-oriented; calls on the Commission to support policies that promote cost-oriented retail prices for roaming services with a view to reducing prices, promoting transparency and preventing commercial practices that are unfair or in any way negative for consumers;

29.  Recognises that the principles of the E-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) have contributed to the development of the digital economy by creating favourable conditions for innovations and by guaranteeing freedom of speech and the freedom to conduct a business; recalls that the Commission is bound by the EU acquis
in its trade negotiations;

30.  Calls on the Commission to further mainstream digital technologies and services into the EU’s development policy, as outlined, inter alia, in the Digital4Development agenda; calls on the Commission to use trade agreements to improve and promote digital rights; recognises that only 53,6 % of all households worldwide have access to the internet; deplores the fact that there is still a significant digital divide; calls on the Commission to increase investments in digital infrastructure in the Global South in order to bridge this digital divide, including by stimulating public-private partnerships, but while still respecting the development effectiveness principles; notes in this context the contribution of the UN ITU-D in the creation, development and improvement of telecommunication and ICT equipment and networks; urges the Commission to make investments in broadband infrastructure in developing countries contribute integrally to, and contingent on, respect for a free, open and secure internet and to develop adequate solutions to promote mobile internet access; stresses that such investments are particularly important for local micro, small & medium enterprises, especially in developing countries, in order to enable them to interact digitally with multinational enterprises and to access global value chains; recalls that facilitating cross-border e-commerce can have a direct impact on improving livelihoods, fostering higher living standards and boosting economic development; recalls the contribution that such endeavours could make to gender equality since a great number of these companies are owned and run by women; reiterates that digital trade could also be a resource for public administrations and thus support the development of e-government;

31.  Stresses that it is imperative that any digital trade strategy must be fully in line with the principle of policy coherence for development, and should in particular seek to promote and enable start-ups and micro, small & medium enterprises to engage in cross border e-commerce, recalling the contribution this could make to gender equality;

32.  Considers that digital issues should also feature more prominently in the EU’s Aid for Trade policy to facilitate the growth of e-commerce via increased support for innovation and infrastructure and access to financing, notably via micro finance initiatives, as well as assistance in increasing online visibility for e-commerce businesses in developing countries, facilitating platform access and promoting the availability of e-payment solutions and access to cost-effective logistics and delivery services;

33.  Stresses that any digital trade strategy, including its flanking measures, must be fully in line with and contribute to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; notes that SDG 4 on quality education: providing free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education to all girls and boys, SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, SDG 8.10 on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, in particular by strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions and expanding access to financial services, as well as SDG 9.1 on developing reliable and resilient infrastructure with a focus on equitable access for all and SDG 9.3 on increasing the access of small enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets, are particularly relevant in this regard;

34.  commits to updating its digital trade strategy every 5 years;

35.  Highlights that the deployment of and access to infrastructure, especially in rural, mountainous and remote areas, that is adequate in coverage, quality and security and supports net neutrality, is crucial for digitising European industry and increasing e-governance;

36.  Supports the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 on ICT standardisation priorities for the digital single market (COM(2016)0176); stresses that while ICT standardisation must continue to be primarily industry led, voluntary and consensus driven, based on the principles of transparency, openness, impartiality, consensus, effectiveness, relevance and coherence, a clearer set of priorities for ICT standardisation, together with high-level political support, will boost competitiveness; notes that this process should make use of the instruments of the European Standardisation System and involve a wide range of stakeholders, both within the EU and at international level, to ensure delivery of improved standard-setting processes, in line with the Joint Initiative on Standardisation; calls on the Commission to foster the emergence of global industry standards under EU leadership for key 5G technologies and network architectures, notably through the exploitation of the 5G public-private partnership (5G PPP) results at the level of key EU and international standardisation bodies;

37.  Notes the efforts made by the WTO to advance its work programme on e-commerce; asks the Commission to seek the further expansion of the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement to include more products and more WTO members, and takes note of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires scheduled for December 2017; asks the Commission to consult European businesses and Member States as soon as possible on its position on e-commerce and other digital trade matters to be agreed at the conference in order to ensure a united European position;

38.  Believes that digital trade should be further facilitated in procurement policies, including by taking advantage of possibilities to provide services remotely and by enabling European companies, particularly SMEs, to obtain access to public and private procurement;

39.  Stresses the importance of international standards on digital equipment and services, especially in the area of cybersecurity; asks the Commission to work to ensure the introduction of basic cybersecurity measures into Internet of things products and cloud‑based services;

40.  Stresses that even though the Digital Single Market strategy addresses many of the problems facing digital trade, EU companies still face significant global obstacles such as non-transparent regulations, government intervention and unjustified data location or data storage; points out that some of the key actions of the Digital Single Market strategy, such as the EU cloud initiative and the copyright reform, have an international dimension that could be addressed in a European digital trade strategy;

41.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the EEAS.

(1) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0299.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0041.
(5) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 35.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0233.
(7) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.

Speech by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, at the European Council meeting on 14 and 15 December 2017

(check against delivery)

 

  1. Brexit

I should like to congratulate the negotiator, Michel Barnier, on the excellent work he has done and express Parliament’s satisfaction at the unity we have shown.

In the resolution we adopted yesterday, Parliament noted the fact that sufficient progress has been made for the negotiations to move on to the second phase. Now we need to be vigilant for the next steps.

In the light of the statements made on the other side of the Channel last weekend, we want to underline that the joint report is a binding document, not an exercise in sleight of hand to enable us to move on to the second phase. There can be no discussions on future relations if the exit agreement is not applied to the letter.

The fact that ‘sufficient progress’ has been made does not mean that we have resolved all the problems. We still have a lot of work to do. Parliament will pay particularly close attention to the measures proposed to genuinely safeguard the rights of citizens and to the procedure which will be introduced to guarantee their special status.

I am also delighted that the British Government has agreed to honour its financial commitments. I never doubted that it would. As regards the issue of the Irish border, Ireland’s problems are the Union’s problems.

The United Kingdom must shed all ambiguity: the specific solution agreed for this border must not become a back door into the internal market.

As regards future relations with the United Kingdom, there are red lines which are non-negotiable: integrity of the internal market, decision-making autonomy of the Union, and third-country status, with all that that implies. In this difficult second phase as well, unity will be our shield.

We will play our part in drafting the agreement on future relations which Parliament will ultimately have to approve.

We face a series of challenges on matters which our citizens regard as priorities.

  1. Security and defence

According to the findings of the Eurobarometer survey, EU citizens want a Union which takes more effective action in the areas of security and defence. We cannot continue to rely on the military might of others. Our security, monitoring our borders, managing migration, fighting terrorism and the stability of regions immediately beyond our borders are our responsibility.  

In signing the Rome Declaration, we made a commitment to revitalise the Union, starting from a common defence. The first step is to develop a European industry and a European market which generate economies of scale and facilitate interoperability.

Twenty-five Member States have just taken an historic step forward by introducing arrangements for permanent military cooperation. The objectives include developing European defence instruments and conducting joint security operations. The EU defence fund, which is currently being discussed in Parliament and which would be used to support the security and defence industry, points in the same direction.

Our industry will benefit from spin-offs generated by research projects and the development of prototypes. The more effective use of funds at EU level will be matched by savings at national level. Common procurement procedures and common standards will enhance our ability to launch joint security operations.

We should follow the example of our space policy where European systems, such as EGNOS, Galileo and Copernicus, have helped to make us more competitive. Drawing on that example, the next budget must set aside the funds needed for proper investment in security and defence.

  1. Social, educational and cultural dimension

Globalisation and new technologies are serious concerns for our citizens, who want a Union which ensures that no one is left behind.

Digitalisation, robotics and artificial intelligence are transforming manufacturing and skills. The new jobs being created are not enough to offset those which have been lost to machines and technologies. Around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes.

The Union must steer this ongoing revolution, by investing in training. More effective coordination between universities, training centres and industry is essential if workers’ skills are to develop in line with changing needs.

The new EU budget should make additional resources available, not only for the Erasmus programme for students, but also for apprenticeships and traineeships for persons seeking to re-enter the labour market.

It is firms which create jobs, and for that reason any rational employment policy must be based on support for the real economy. 

Our entrepreneurs must be able to invest in Europe without facing unfair competition from businesses which deal with overcapacity problems by laying off European workers, while taking advantage of subsidies and selling their products below cost price. Parliament insisted that the new method for calculating anti-dumping duties should not impose any additional burden of proof on SMEs and take account of social and environmental dumping.

Parliament’s proposal on the Posted Workers Directive combines provisions to protect workers, enhance competitiveness and create a fairer market. I hope that an agreement can be reached with the Council as soon as possible.

If we want to create jobs, we must also focus on sectors of high labour intensity and creativity. Our history and culture, which go back thousands of years, offer potential for growth which we must exploit to the full.

I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products. We are not only the continent with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites; we are also still the leader in many branches of the cultural and creative industries.

In its resolution on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, Parliament calls for measures to promote a sector which employs 12 million people.

In this sector as well, the digital revolution is opening up unprecedented prospects, provided that we come up with the right policies to govern it. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. If we fail to safeguard creativity and the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, films, articles and books, investment will dwindle, with serious consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together. Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe which sees diversity as an asset.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

  1. Immigration

Our citizens are looking to us to resolve the migration crisis. They no longer accept the uncontrolled flows of migrants, pilgrimages of refugees hopping from country to country in search of asylum, mass deaths in the desert or at sea, or the appalling spectacle of markets where people are sold as slaves.

Piecemeal responses are the opposite of effective solutions. What we need instead is a strong European strategy, genuine coordination and more pooling of resources.

On the one hand, we need to step up checks at our external borders, turning back those who have no right to enter, or arranging quickly and firmly for their readmission; on the other, we need to show solidarity with those fleeing wars and persecution.

The current asylum system, which leaves countries of first entry to bear the full brunt of dealing with migrants, is not working. Parliament has approved by a wide majority an overhaul of the Dublin system, to introduce rules which increase the element of solidarity and make the system more uniform and effective. We want the system for the allocation of refugees to be automatic and to be based on fair and objective criteria, in keeping with the spirit of solidarity on which our Union has been founded from the start.

Now it is up to the Council to do its part, as quickly as possible. Although efforts to achieve a broad consensus on such a sensitive topic are laudable, it is not right to insist on unanimity at all costs in cases where the Treaties provide for decision-making by a qualified majority under the ordinary legislative procedure. The danger is not only that a decision of fundamental importance to EU citizens will be put off indefinitely, but also that Parliament will be deprived of its powers as co-legislator. As President of the European Parliament, it is my duty to safeguard its prerogatives.

At the Abidjan summit, the urgent need for us all to work together to stabilise Libya and protect human rights emerged very clearly. The African Union is calling on us to speak with one voice and coordinate our efforts.

Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors will require investments similar in scale to those used to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money must be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali. It must be used to train border guards and members of the security forces, or to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection can be provided and asylum applications dealt with.

The problem of migration, which is linked to demographics, climate, terrorism, wars and poverty, must be tackled at its root. We must offer young Africans real prospects, otherwise they will leave not in their thousands, but in their millions.

The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa, which we approved in July, is an important step in the right direction. But much greater efforts are needed if Africa is to develop a manufacturing base, farm efficiently, exploit renewable sources of energy and build up proper infrastructure.

In Abidjan I proposed that as from the next budget at least EUR 40 billion should be set aside for the investment fund. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion, thereby doubling foreign investment in Africa.

  1. Strengthening economic governance

We need to complete the Banking Union and the capital market. Reducing risks must imply pooling them.

Parliament is in favour of transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund. We also support the idea of appointing an EU Finance Minister; he or she would also be a Vice-President of the Commission and chair the Eurogroup, and would have the confidence of the European Parliament after going through a hearing and approval procedure.

These reforms must go beyond mere window-dressing; what are needed are real powers, a large enough budget and democratic scrutiny.

  1. A political budget

As I emphasised at the last European Council meeting, I agree with Commissioner Stylianides on the need to develop genuine European civil protection.  We could endow ourselves with the joint capabilities and resources needed to respond promptly and more effectively to requests for assistance from Member States and neighbouring countries. In so doing, we could show our citizens the more practical face of European solidarity.

This is another example of how pooling resources in certain sectors generates efficiency gains and savings for all the Member States.

Similarly, we need to pool more resources in the areas of defence, training, culture and immigration. The Union needs a political budget which reflects citizens’ priorities. This reform should be at the top of our list, and it does not even require an amendment to the Treaties.

We must not increase the burden on citizens and SMEs – they already pay too much tax. We need to generate Community own resources by collecting revenue from those who avoid taxes at the moment.

On the basis of the Monti report, Parliament is considering a series of possibilities. These include taxes on digital platforms, which would do away with the problem of tax dumping and the territoriality of profits, and on speculative financial transactions.

I also regard bolder action against tax havens as essential.

General Assembly Adopts Text on Global Health Coverage Day, Urges Greater Recognition of Link between Global Well Being, Foreign Policy

The General Assembly, acting without a vote, today adopted two resolutions related to the nexus of global health and foreign policy, with one designating 12 December as the annual “International Universal Health Coverage Day” and the other calling for a major summit to be held on the issue in 2019.

Virachai Plasai (Thailand) introduced the draft resolutions titled “International Universal Health Coverage Day” (document A/72/L.27) and “Global Health and foreign policy: addressing the health of the most vulnerable for an inclusive society” (document A/72/L.28) at the meeting’s outset.  Speaking on behalf of the core members of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative — namely, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and his own country — he said the annual resolution aimed to advocate for greater recognition of the interdependence and intrinsic links between global health and foreign policy.  This year’s version furthered those goals while also reaffirming the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s commitment to “leave no one behind”.

“In order to respond effectively to health‑related challenges, the international community needs to cooperate and take an inclusive, holistic and people‑centred approach on health issues,” he said, emphasizing that health was not only a precondition for but also an outcome and indicator of all three dimensions of sustainable development.  Presently, millions of people died every day from diseases that could have been prevented or cured due to limited or no access to quality health services and affordable, effective medicines.

Against that backdrop, he said the text on “Global health and foreign policy” underscored the importance of ensuring good health for all people at all ages.  That included sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and he also spotlighted the health needs of indigenous peoples, refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants.  In addition, the resolution would have the Assembly convene a high‑level meeting in 2019 on universal health coverage, as its co‑sponsors felt it was time to bring such critical discussions to New York.  Meanwhile, he said, the second draft resolution proposed to designate 12 December as “International Universal Health Coverage Day”, to be commemorated annually by Member States and relevant parties in line with their national priorities.

Fathmath Razana (Maldives), drawing attention to the strides her country had made due to increased investments in its health sectors, said its average life expectancy had increased from 47 years of age in 1977 to 78 today.  Maternal mortality rates had fallen, contagious diseases were under control, and Maldives became the first nation in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Southeast Asia region to be verified malaria‑free.  While such gains had allowed her nation to emerge from the least developed country category, she said it nevertheless continued to experience similar challenges as other small island developing States in the provision of health services and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  It required significant further investments, including through private sector partnerships and in the form of international cooperation.

Several speakers explained their delegations’ positions following the adoption of the drafts on “International Universal Health Coverage Day” and “Global Health and foreign policy”, with the latter orally corrected.  Regarding that text, the representative of the Russian Federation said ensuring general coverage for health and medical care, preventing emergency situations and protecting the health of women and children were all essential.  Outlining his Government’s efforts to increase its numbers of specialized doctors, improve practical training and raise the profile of the medical profession, he spotlighted a recent Moscow conference on combating tuberculosis and urged further efforts to protect the most vulnerable.  His country therefore fully endorsed the consensus on both resolutions.

The United States’ representative, also speaking in explanation of position on the “Global Health and foreign policy” text, said each country had its own development priorities and must work towards implementing the 2030 Agenda in accordance with them.  While recognizing the importance of access to affordable, safe and effective medicines, she expressed regret over the inclusion of unacceptable language on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade‑Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.  The strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights incentivized the creation and distribution of lifesaving medicines.

Turning to operative paragraph 12 of that text, she said that while the United States remained committed to the principles laid out in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, that document did not create new international rights, including any right to abortion.  “We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance,” she said.  She also did not support the inclusion of references to the development of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, on the same resolution, voiced concern over attempts to “shift the balance of the text” through the inclusion of controversial language that had not been agreed upon.  Access to abortion was not considered part of the right to health, he said, adding that human rights were derived from the concept of inherent human dignity and the right to life.  In addition, the Holy See viewed the concept of gender not as a psychological or social construction but as one based on biology.

Before the Assembly for that discussion was a note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the Report of the Global Health Crises Task Force (document A/72/113) and another transmitting the report of the Director General of the WHO, the Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Secretary‑General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the immediate actions of the High-level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth (document A/72/378).

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Opening speech at the European Culture Forum, Milan – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

(check against delivery)

I should like to thank Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for organising this Forum. It provides a rare opportunity to exchange views and compare experiences in relation to this vital sector.  

As an Italian, I am delighted that Milan should have been chosen to host the event marking the official start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

We are in a city which has great symbolic significance, where the culture and creativity of the past nurture the living culture of the present.

The history of Milan mirrors that of our continent. For three millennia, it has been a trading centre, a melting pot of peoples, ideas and cultures. It stands at a crossroads: people and goods which have crossed the Alps, passed by the great lakes and travelled the northern Italian plain reach the Mediterranean from here. It is a bridge between North and South, between East and West.

Here, business, innovation and creativity have always been inseparable. Patrons, artists, entrepreneurs, artisans and scholars have been instrumental in ensuring that Milan has remained open at all times to the new, to the future.

Milan has always attracted talented people, one being Leonardo da Vinci, the man who embodied the very essence of the Renaissance, of genius, of versatility. He was a consummate artist, but also an experimenter and inventor, whose interests spanned architecture, science and engineering. He was an industrial designer before the concept even existed.

Milan Cathedral, and its Fabbrica, which has remained active down the centuries and which we will visit tomorrow with Commissioner Navracsics, is another symbol of unceasing dynamism.

This makes Milan one of the capitals of culture, of design, of fashion and of luxury goods. It is a model for the European way of life which is the envy of the whole world. Milan is living proof that history, creativity and innovation are vital to an internationally competitive and successful EU.

We are the continent with half of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Europe is still leading in several sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Wherever you go in the world, Europe is a synonym for style, know-how and beauty.

This is our leadership. A leadership which cannot be delocalised and which has to serve as our springboard for political and economic renewal.

Culture and creativity as factors for growth and job creation

Digitalisation, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence are wreaking drastic changes in our working and private lives. We are in the throes of an industrial revolution in which the new jobs being created are not enough to offset those being lost by people who have been replaced by machines and technologies.

Recent research suggests that around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, 54 million jobs will be at risk in the next few years alone.

The Union must steer this process of change, by investing more in training and by focusing on sectors in which manual labour and creativity will remain essential. I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products.

Cultural heritage and European creativity can be key factors in generating growth and jobs.

By adopting the Ehler-Morgano report on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, the European Parliament issued a clear call to tap the potential of this sector.

The cultural and creative industries employ 12 million people, 7.5% of the EU workforce, and generate a turnover of EUR 509 billion. The sectors which draw most on intellectual property account for one-quarter of those jobs and one-third of that turnover.

Authors, artists and designers are the main sources of that creativity, which spills over massively into other sectors and contributes to the excellence of European products.

Let’s take luxury goods as an example: it is a market worth EUR 1000 billion in which Europe is the leader, accounting for 70% of production. 

Some 62% of the luxury goods manufactured in Europe are sold abroad and they make up 10% of the EU’s total exports.

Synergies between tourism and the cultural and creative industries

Synergies between the cultural and creative industries and tourism are another key engine for growth.

Already today, tourism accounts for 10% of EU GDP and 10% of jobs in the Union. Between now and 2030, the number of visitors to Europe will double, from 1 to 2 billion.

Europe can cater for the travel interests of this new emerging class, many of whom are Asians, by exploiting its historical heritage, its way of life and its creativity. The aim is to consolidate our leading position, by increasing the number of tourists who come to Europe from the current figure of 550 million to 700 million by 2020. Over the next 10 years, we can create up to 5 million jobs.

Manufacturing excellence and the creative industries attract tourism, in the same way that tourism fosters exports. This goes for clothing, cheese and wine just as much as for cars, luxury hotels and the audiovisual sector. People in China who buy our high-quality products or watch films set in Europe will be encouraged to visit our continent.

2018 will also be the Year of EU-China Tourism, another opportunity we must not waste. The official launch, which I will have the pleasure of attending, will take place in Venice on 19 January 2018, in the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister. It is a prime example of cultural diplomacy and will generate growth and lead to closer cooperation with China.

The digital revolution – opportunities and challenges

The digital revolution is opening up unprecedented possibilities: three-dimensional virtual tours of museums and cathedrals; ‘journeys through time’ or ‘augmented reality experiences’ at archaeological sites; new kinds of online booking and shopping services; and the availability of audiovisual products on demand. By 2020, 20% of purchases of branded goods will be made online.

Political governance of this revolution is essential. Economic opportunities and new freedoms for consumers and firms must not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all, and they must not serve to legitimise the piracy which enables people to enrich themselves at the expense of those who create content.

The rules must be the same for all businesses, whether they operate online or offline. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. Anyone who visits platforms in order to enjoy, free of charge, audiovisual content and artistic images, read the news or find information about hotels and restaurants is lining the pockets of the web giants. They are earning billions through advertising, the provision of intermediary services and the mining of personal data, and their coffers swell whenever people click on their pages in search of content created by others.

Those who once touted themselves as champions of freedom and innovation are now acting like the feudal lords who, in the Middle Ages, imposed tolls on anyone who used the roads they controlled from their castles.

The dominant positions which many platforms enjoy in the areas of commerce, bookings, the provision of news and online advertising – positions made possible by regulatory disparities – are suffocating SMIs and creativity.

Music rights holders receive more in royalties from bars with a few dozen customers than from the people who make their works available to millions of people on the internet. Amazon has sent small publishing houses to the wall. Google and Facebook use news reports and content to sell advertising, without offering the journalists concerned proper remuneration in return.

The web giants create very few jobs in Europe, and pay derisory amounts of tax, avoiding most of what would be an annual bill of roughly EUR 20 billion. In Italy, they pay just EUR 11.7 million.

The digital single market is the main driving force behind the cultural and creative industries. It makes it possible to disseminate content and branded products and to launch start-ups.

It is essential that this market safeguard the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, TV series, films, articles and books. If we fail to protect creativity, investment will dwindle, with disastrous consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

The most recent European legislation on copyright dates back to 2001, to a time before the web giants existed.

Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel are working to complete the digital market, and Parliament is calling for measures to promote creativity and equal conditions for everyone.

Attracting investment

The cultural and creative industries face a series of obstacles which are stifling their potential. Access to finance, for example, especially for SMEs, remains a problem.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage will also be the year in which we discuss the next multiannual budget.

If we are to revitalise the Union and provide our citizens with answers, then we need a budget that reflects their priorities. Investment in education and culture must be increased.

Other sources of financing can be found, without asking the public to make further sacrifices, by collecting taxes from those who are currently not paying them – starting with web platforms.

At the same time, existing sources of funding need to be used more effectively. EU regional funds, in synergy with Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank, can be used to provide the guarantees needed to back projects in the fields of culture and creativity. This could contribute, for example, to the rediscovery, harnessing and digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage – with a corresponding increase in visitor numbers and jobs.

It is also vital to invest more in skills and training. There is a shortage of museum managers, skilled chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators, designers and programmers, but also of the manual skills needed to produce high-end goods.

Conclusion

Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe, one which does not just accept diversity, but regards it as an asset. Being Italian means being European. We have no need for new barriers or borders or parochial nationalism.

Drawing on our deep-rooted faith in humankind, we rose out of the ashes of war and put the freedom and dignity of the individual at the centre of our European project.

Our identity is one born on the shores of the Mediterranean and it has been shaped by openness to exchanges of all kinds – of goods, of ideas and of culture. It has Judeo-Christian roots, and was forged in abbeys and universities, during the Humanist period, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together, and culture must be the starting point for our efforts to revitalise our Union.

Opening speech at the European Culture Forum, Milan – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

(check against delivery)

I should like to thank Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for organising this Forum. It provides a rare opportunity to exchange views and compare experiences in relation to this vital sector.  

As an Italian, I am delighted that Milan should have been chosen to host the event marking the official start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

We are in a city which has great symbolic significance, where the culture and creativity of the past nurture the living culture of the present.

The history of Milan mirrors that of our continent. For three millennia, it has been a trading centre, a melting pot of peoples, ideas and cultures. It stands at a crossroads: people and goods which have crossed the Alps, passed by the great lakes and travelled the northern Italian plain reach the Mediterranean from here. It is a bridge between North and South, between East and West.

Here, business, innovation and creativity have always been inseparable. Patrons, artists, entrepreneurs, artisans and scholars have been instrumental in ensuring that Milan has remained open at all times to the new, to the future.

Milan has always attracted talented people, one being Leonardo da Vinci, the man who embodied the very essence of the Renaissance, of genius, of versatility. He was a consummate artist, but also an experimenter and inventor, whose interests spanned architecture, science and engineering. He was an industrial designer before the concept even existed.

Milan Cathedral, and its Fabbrica, which has remained active down the centuries and which we will visit tomorrow with Commissioner Navracsics, is another symbol of unceasing dynamism.

This makes Milan one of the capitals of culture, of design, of fashion and of luxury goods. It is a model for the European way of life which is the envy of the whole world. Milan is living proof that history, creativity and innovation are vital to an internationally competitive and successful EU.

We are the continent with half of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Europe is still leading in several sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Wherever you go in the world, Europe is a synonym for style, know-how and beauty.

This is our leadership. A leadership which cannot be delocalised and which has to serve as our springboard for political and economic renewal.

Culture and creativity as factors for growth and job creation

Digitalisation, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence are wreaking drastic changes in our working and private lives. We are in the throes of an industrial revolution in which the new jobs being created are not enough to offset those being lost by people who have been replaced by machines and technologies.

Recent research suggests that around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, 54 million jobs will be at risk in the next few years alone.

The Union must steer this process of change, by investing more in training and by focusing on sectors in which manual labour and creativity will remain essential. I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products.

Cultural heritage and European creativity can be key factors in generating growth and jobs.

By adopting the Ehler-Morgano report on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, the European Parliament issued a clear call to tap the potential of this sector.

The cultural and creative industries employ 12 million people, 7.5% of the EU workforce, and generate a turnover of EUR 509 billion. The sectors which draw most on intellectual property account for one-quarter of those jobs and one-third of that turnover.

Authors, artists and designers are the main sources of that creativity, which spills over massively into other sectors and contributes to the excellence of European products.

Let’s take luxury goods as an example: it is a market worth EUR 1000 billion in which Europe is the leader, accounting for 70% of production. 

Some 62% of the luxury goods manufactured in Europe are sold abroad and they make up 10% of the EU’s total exports.

Synergies between tourism and the cultural and creative industries

Synergies between the cultural and creative industries and tourism are another key engine for growth.

Already today, tourism accounts for 10% of EU GDP and 10% of jobs in the Union. Between now and 2030, the number of visitors to Europe will double, from 1 to 2 billion.

Europe can cater for the travel interests of this new emerging class, many of whom are Asians, by exploiting its historical heritage, its way of life and its creativity. The aim is to consolidate our leading position, by increasing the number of tourists who come to Europe from the current figure of 550 million to 700 million by 2020. Over the next 10 years, we can create up to 5 million jobs.

Manufacturing excellence and the creative industries attract tourism, in the same way that tourism fosters exports. This goes for clothing, cheese and wine just as much as for cars, luxury hotels and the audiovisual sector. People in China who buy our high-quality products or watch films set in Europe will be encouraged to visit our continent.

2018 will also be the Year of EU-China Tourism, another opportunity we must not waste. The official launch, which I will have the pleasure of attending, will take place in Venice on 19 January 2018, in the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister. It is a prime example of cultural diplomacy and will generate growth and lead to closer cooperation with China.

The digital revolution – opportunities and challenges

The digital revolution is opening up unprecedented possibilities: three-dimensional virtual tours of museums and cathedrals; ‘journeys through time’ or ‘augmented reality experiences’ at archaeological sites; new kinds of online booking and shopping services; and the availability of audiovisual products on demand. By 2020, 20% of purchases of branded goods will be made online.

Political governance of this revolution is essential. Economic opportunities and new freedoms for consumers and firms must not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all, and they must not serve to legitimise the piracy which enables people to enrich themselves at the expense of those who create content.

The rules must be the same for all businesses, whether they operate online or offline. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. Anyone who visits platforms in order to enjoy, free of charge, audiovisual content and artistic images, read the news or find information about hotels and restaurants is lining the pockets of the web giants. They are earning billions through advertising, the provision of intermediary services and the mining of personal data, and their coffers swell whenever people click on their pages in search of content created by others.

Those who once touted themselves as champions of freedom and innovation are now acting like the feudal lords who, in the Middle Ages, imposed tolls on anyone who used the roads they controlled from their castles.

The dominant positions which many platforms enjoy in the areas of commerce, bookings, the provision of news and online advertising – positions made possible by regulatory disparities – are suffocating SMIs and creativity.

Music rights holders receive more in royalties from bars with a few dozen customers than from the people who make their works available to millions of people on the internet. Amazon has sent small publishing houses to the wall. Google and Facebook use news reports and content to sell advertising, without offering the journalists concerned proper remuneration in return.

The web giants create very few jobs in Europe, and pay derisory amounts of tax, avoiding most of what would be an annual bill of roughly EUR 20 billion. In Italy, they pay just EUR 11.7 million.

The digital single market is the main driving force behind the cultural and creative industries. It makes it possible to disseminate content and branded products and to launch start-ups.

It is essential that this market safeguard the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, TV series, films, articles and books. If we fail to protect creativity, investment will dwindle, with disastrous consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

The most recent European legislation on copyright dates back to 2001, to a time before the web giants existed.

Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel are working to complete the digital market, and Parliament is calling for measures to promote creativity and equal conditions for everyone.

Attracting investment

The cultural and creative industries face a series of obstacles which are stifling their potential. Access to finance, for example, especially for SMEs, remains a problem.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage will also be the year in which we discuss the next multiannual budget.

If we are to revitalise the Union and provide our citizens with answers, then we need a budget that reflects their priorities. Investment in education and culture must be increased.

Other sources of financing can be found, without asking the public to make further sacrifices, by collecting taxes from those who are currently not paying them – starting with web platforms.

At the same time, existing sources of funding need to be used more effectively. EU regional funds, in synergy with Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank, can be used to provide the guarantees needed to back projects in the fields of culture and creativity. This could contribute, for example, to the rediscovery, harnessing and digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage – with a corresponding increase in visitor numbers and jobs.

It is also vital to invest more in skills and training. There is a shortage of museum managers, skilled chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators, designers and programmers, but also of the manual skills needed to produce high-end goods.

Conclusion

Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe, one which does not just accept diversity, but regards it as an asset. Being Italian means being European. We have no need for new barriers or borders or parochial nationalism.

Drawing on our deep-rooted faith in humankind, we rose out of the ashes of war and put the freedom and dignity of the individual at the centre of our European project.

Our identity is one born on the shores of the Mediterranean and it has been shaped by openness to exchanges of all kinds – of goods, of ideas and of culture. It has Judeo-Christian roots, and was forged in abbeys and universities, during the Humanist period, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together, and culture must be the starting point for our efforts to revitalise our Union.