The EU institutions’ new groove – the weekly Digital rhyme

by Claire La Combe


Last week was a busy week on the topic of “digital”. DG Connect Commissioners went touring on the Digital Market reforms for the EU. Platforms were different, but speeches were the same: “we need to remove barriers on the Digital Market in Europe (DSM)”; “we need to listen more to EU citizens and stakeholders in order to build a fair balance between rights and access”. Here goes the digital rhyme…

On Monday morning, Andrus Ansip tweetchated about the Digital Single Market

“Our aim is to change the status quo” introduced Commissioner Ansip (VP of the European Commission for Digital Single Market). During one hour, according to the Digital Agenda team, 1061 tweets were exchanged on the #DSM in Europe[1]. The hot topic: the breaking down of barriers. “Show me evidence of geoblocking” Mr. Ansip asked. And consumers did #AskAnsip.

Some authors took part in the discussions and @La_Gam had the honour to be officially storified with its “we don’t want our creation to be blocked, but we want value to be fairly shared”. “I believe that authors and creators should  have more weighted on the ongoing discussions” tweeted back Mr Ansip.

Meanwhile, a few comments came from the Audiovisual sector. “How do you intend to balance continued investment in European films with your claim for cross-border availability?” asked the SAA. Indeed, the Film Industry is financed in majority thanks to territorial rights. Would a DSM in Europe be the end of Film financing in Europe ? No tweet was replied. On Monday, there was still no clue if the Commissioner could answer that question.

And Mr Ansip concluded “This Twitter chat is really cool. Let’s do it for 5 more minutes.” Since it is that way we’ll come back on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, Andrus Ansip, Günther Oettinger, Robert Madelin and Roberto Viola, participated in the Digital4EU initiative

“This is about altering the status quo to trigger real change and maximum benefits for all Europeans” introduced Commissioner Ansip. From 9:30 to 6pm at the European Parliament in Brussels, more than 300 stakeholders were asked to share their views on the Digital future of Europe. “We want to listen to you” said Mr Madelin (Director-General, DG Connect). The hot topic: consumers’ rights. “Why do we need a connected DSM? Show your evidence, share and talk”, asked Mr Oettinger (Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society), Mr Ansip and Mr Madelin when opening the online platform #Digital4EU “for everyone”. And 80 people registered on that day.

It seems that no artist nor creative industry representative were present to take part in the discussions…Meanwhile four main questions were asked: what are the missing opportunities of the EU Market 2.0;  what are the geo-blocking issues; what are the reforms to follow in EU copyrights rules ; what should be digital technologies role in value creation ? “We need to find a new balance of rights” underlined Mr Oettinger in the afternoon; and “citizens play a key role when assessing bottlenecks in the DSM” punctuated MEP Andreas Schwab (member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, IMCO) at the conference.

And the MEP added, “We need to translate rules of the old economy to the new economy”…Yet, “there are countries in Europe whose copyright rules are 80 years old!” stigmatised Mr Viola (Deputy Director-General, DG Connect).  No member of the audiovisual sector were invited to comment. On Tuesday, there was still no clue if the culture creators could help improve discussions.

And Mr Madelin concluded “I learned a lot, but I don’t think we’ve answered all the questions.” Since it is that way we’ll come back on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Robert Madelin travelled to “the EU in the Digital Age” conference

“I am here to reflect on how to unleash the potential in the European digital economy” introduced Baroness Neville-Rolfe  (Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for Intellectual Property, UK Parliament) at the Bristish-Danish conference on the DSM in Copenhagen. The biggest topic : benefits of the Digital Age for EU businesses.  “It is immensely important that you as representatives of the European business sector make your voices heard” she encouraged in the end. And various government representatives applauded.

Still… no artist nor creative industry representative were called to take part in the discussions. “Europe’s creative output is one of its richest resources(…) We want to see a DSM where there is greater availability of legitimate content on fair and reasonable terms (…) where creators get the rewards they deserve (…) this will be a difficult balance to strike” commented the Baroness. “It is all about practical solutions” stressed Mr Madelin. On Wednesday, there was still no clue if the Commission had a concrete action plan for a copyright framework rewarding creativity and enabling consumer cross-accessibility at the same time.

And Mr Madelin concluded “One of the big challenges is how to get 28 smart & proud nations to work together on Digital”. Since it is that way we’ll come back on Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, Günther Oettinger tweetchated about the Copyright reform

“We have 28 copyright regimes in the EU. It simply does not fit to the reality any more” introduced Commissioner Oettinger. In one hour, according the DG Connect Press Office, 824 tweets were exchanged on the #copyright reform in Europe[2]. The biggest trend: fair remuneration. “EU Copyright: how do YOU want it to be?” Mr Oettinger asked. And creative people did #AskOettinger.

More artists bodies took part in the discussion…“Can you improve creators’ contracts and make it possible to earn a living as a screenwriter?” jointly tweeted European writers’ guilds “Creative people are in centre of our analysis. We want to develop a stable legal framework for their future work”  tweeted back Mr Oettinger.

Meanwhile, more audiovisual bodies took part in the discussion…“Who will risk to buy and release films that consumers could watch online even before their release in cinemas?” cried out Europa Distribution. Indeed, the Film Industry is financed in majority thanks to territorial rights. Would a DSM in Europe be the end of Film financing in Europe ?  “Copyright enforcement is high on our priorities list. Violators need to fear the stick” tweeted back Mr Oettinger. On Thursday afternoon, there was still no clue if the Commissioner understood the issue right.

And Mr Oettinger concluded “Thank you very much for all your tweets! Great experience. Please stay in touch! ; )” Since it is that way we’ll come back on Monday.

On Monday afternoon…

On March 2nd at 15.00, in the Parliament, was held the inaugural meeting of the IMCO working group on the DSM with “its aim of advancing further towards completion of the Digital Single Market, unleashing its potential and capitalise on new business opportunities that the digital economy could bring to the EU”. Who tweeted about it ?

#EP. #DSM. Enjoying kick-off for this mandate of the #IMCO Working Group. Talking about the Digital Revolution…” tweeted Mr Madelin…here goes the rhyme again.


And yet some upcoming talks to come:

9th & 10th March “Strengthening the European Audiovisual Media Market for the Development of the European Identity”

Conference in Riga (Latvia Presidency of the EU) with focus on the AVMS Directive and European values in a converged media environment.

12th March – Auteurs&Co 2015 : Marché unique… Culture unique ?

Panel discussions in Paris, organised by French Scam (Society of Authors), on the role of authors and culture in Europe at the digital age.

23rd March – Putting Authors at the Heart of the Creative Economy

From 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM, in Brussels. Stakeholder meeting – “White Paper launch”, organised by the SAA (Society of Audiovisual Authors).

[1] Read the official storify report by @DigitalAgendaEU on

[2] Follow the topic #AskOettinger on