Music Groups Lobby EU On Economic Plans

Call for greater IP protection.

A coalition of entertainment and media groups is calling on the European Union to focus on fostering creativity and innovation as it revamps its 10-year economic plan.

An industry coalition that includes the IFPI has petitioned the European Commission to ensure that proposed changes help cut red tape, fight piracy, boost legal online services and improve technological interoperability. Others involved in the coalition include international body the Motion Picture Assn., the Assn. of Commercial Television in Europe and the European advertising and publishing lobbying groups.

The groups have written to European policymakers regarding the so-called Lisbon Agenda, which aims to make the EU the world's most dynamic economy by 2010.

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso today (Feb. 2) called on the EU to focus on more realistic tasks. He suggested new measures to encourage investment, tighten anti-trust laws and boost spending on research and development.

However, the coalition warned that the Commission's planned focus on new technologies could lead to the neglect of the creative sectors. "The European entertainment and media market is forecast to rise around 5.4% in the next few years to reach a value of €351 billion ($456 billion) by 2008," the coalition said in its letter to Brussels. "If Europe is going to rise to the challenge of becoming the world's leading knowledge-based economy by the year 2010, it must create the conditions to allow its creative and media businesses to develop further."

EMI Group chief Eric Nicoli, who is also the music industry's representative to Britain's Creative Industries IP Forum, says Europe's economic focus should be on protecting intellectual property. "Copyright industries now generate 5.3% of Europe's [gross domestic product], and this is growing each year," he said. "Without proper IP protection no creative business can exist, let alone prosper. Europe has a key role to play in protecting those intellectual property rights that underpin our creative economy."

IFPI regional director for Europe Frances Moore says the creative industries must be at the center of the process if the EU is to be the most competitive knowledge-based society by 2010.