OPP Meeting Summary: EP CULT Committee – Structured dialogue with Commissioner Ansip (11 July 2017)

A summary of the Committee’s structured dialogue is now available.

EP CULT Committee – 11 July 2017
Structured dialogue with Commissioner Ansip

Commissioner Ansip made the following opening remarks:

  • regarding the geo-blocking proposal from the Commission this had been issued due to problems with the purchase of tangible goods. He highlighted a number of problem areas such as problems with IP addresses and payments being blocked due to the location of the user;
  • with reference to the copyright directive he raised concerns about online platforms that did not remunerate artists fairly. One online platform with 1 billion users was paying 0.6 million in fees to musicians and he was critical of this when another online platform was paying musicians €2 billion annually with 140 million subscribers;
  • hyperlinking needed to remain a basic freedom of the internet. When talking about linking and hyperlinking he believed they had good case-law in EU law already;
  • media publishers had not asked for the same rights as authors and musicians last century although they were now looking for such ‘neighbouring rights’ and he called on the committee to support his proposals on the matter which he acknowledged were controversial as he was in favour of these publishers acquiring such rights under copyright law;
  • text and data mining was an important and innovative tool for scientists. The EU had a leading position in the field but this was mainly due to the UK as they had the most liberal rules in the EU although he could not agree with the Rapporteur that liberalising further was the answer as he believed the current system was working;
  • regarding the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMSD) he hoped that they could find an agreement based on the work of the co-Rapporteurs Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE) and Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE). He had been unhappy with some member states (MS) that classed themselves as ‘like-minded’ such as Finland, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK, as if they reached an agreement but these MS were unhappy, that was not an outcome that pleased him;
  • Brexit was causing unpredictability with future finances although he wanted to see continued investments in creative media increased;
  • digital skills would be important. the majority of MS had already created national strategies and there was a common understanding that these skills were necessary;
  • cybersecurity, the data economy, and platforms, were all issues that needed to be considered;
    • regarding platforms and business relationships between small businesses and the big platforms, he noted the feedback he was receiving and stressed he wanted to bring more clarity and deal with any unfair business practices;
    • regarding the data economy they had to deal with the free flow of data as they had 56 laws across 21 MS. Such a practice would kill innovation. Big corporations could have different data centres in 28 MS but startups could not. The message to startups from the EU would be clear as without reform they would in effect be saying, ‘stay at home or go to the United States’;
    • regarding cybersecurity they would relaunch the strategy as the situation was “totally different to 2013” as then they did not have the internet of things (IoT) and the latest attacks were coming via connected devices.

Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE)

  • she welcomed some of the Commissioner’s comments regarding copyright and other issues;
  • she questioned the Commission’s view regarding cultural diversity and the territorial aspects of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMSD) as she did not feel it was always clear.

Silvia Costa (S&D, IT)

  • regarding ‘notice and action’ she asked for further details and questioned what was planned in terms of rules or a code of conduct or if the approach would be more formalised than that;
  • as regards copyright she questioned whether this was also good for competitors as well as the authors.

Yana Toom (ALDE, EE)

  • she raised concerns that they were trying to regulate the internet using a myriad of directives. She also expressed concern that different committees were coming up with different definitions for the same thing and gave the example of user-generated content (UGC);
  • she suggested having a committee that dealt exclusively with the IoT such was the complexity with definitions. She asked the Commissioner his view on what sort of framework he would suggest.

Helga Trüpel (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • she agreed with Yana Toom (ALDE, EE) and her point regarding the volume of areas they were attempting to regulate – they had been having this debate for years about how to regulate and how to maintain the freedom of the internet;
  • regarding copyright she called for fairness for journalists;
  • regarding the point that Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE) made about the territorial aspects of the AMSD she asked the Commissioner what was meant by the term she had heard him use on occasion – ‘unjustifiable blocking‘ – and if that meant that there was indeed ‘justifiable blocking‘;
  • she was pleased the Commissioner had referenced the value gap between what large platforms paid artists. The debate now was around identification technologies and if this meant the general filtering of the internet. The Commissioner clearly did not think this was about the general filtering of the internet and she asked him for his response in that regard.

Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE)

  • regarding digital skills she asked what the Commission would be proposing and if this would be legislative or non-legislative.

Elena Gentile (S&D, IT) 

  • she raised concerns about fake news on digital platforms.

Luigi Morgano (S&D, IT)

  • a Eurobarometer survey on automation and digitisation on everyday life had shown that people were generally positive. However, there were two points where people were pessimistic. Firstly, the impact of AI on the labour market – 7/10 felt this would impact on jobs. Secondly, the issue of privacy was also a concern. He asked for the Commissioner’s views.

Julie Ward (S&D, UK)

  • she asked what the Commission were doing to try to increase the amount of woman in the “digital sphere” and how they were planning to get more young people involved, particularly as regards employment.

Commissioner Ansip made the following concluding remarks:

  • it would be important to teach digital skills in kindergarten. As regards concrete actions, the Commission had initiatives such as code week and such initiates were designed to show that skill such as coding were not for “freaks” or “strange” people but for everybody;
  • regarding gender balance within the ICT industry this was a “real problem” due to the 80/20 ratio. A challenge would be how to create work-life balance in the sector. This would be an important question for the Commission;
  • too often citizens were scared of AI and robots. However, he believed in progress and the ability to create more jobs through emerging technologies. He cited the example of every piece of new technology he received he had to work more not less;
  • lifelong learning needed to become a reality and not a slogan as in some areas people would lose their jobs;
  • he questioned how they would tax robots as this could create obstacles to progress. They needed to decide whether to get on the train or wave as it passed them by. “They could not stop progress“;
  • fake news was a hot topic everywhere and the platforms firstly needed to deal with the issue. Politicians also would need to deal with fake news. Trust was a key issue for platforms as people would not use platforms if they lost trust in them. Fake news would also be tackled as part of the ‘duty of care’ proposal;
  • citizens should have access to buy goods anywhere in the EU no matter where they resided or where there credit card was registered as otherwise he believed this was “discrimination“;
  • regarding the principle of territoriality he believed this was important in certain circumstances;
  • people were using VPNs and 68% of citizens in the EU admitted to using free downloads. Exclusivity on a territorial basis was not something that anyone could claim was actually happening. This was a big problem for authors. Absolute territorial exclusivity had to be either 100% or 0%. They should not punish people for stealing but rather offer legal access to citizens. The aim was not to dismantle existing business models or destroy territoriality but to find a solution where authors were remunerated fairly and people had access to content;
  • after every terror attack people talked about regulating digital communication but they had to protect freedom of expression.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the European Parliament serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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