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Thursday, 12 May 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Report: Zver - Youth on the Move: – a framework for improving Europe's education and training systems - Report: Honeyball - Early years learning - Report: Schaake - Cultural dimensions of EU external actions - Report: Sanchez-Schmid - Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries - Sarajevo as a European Capital of Culture in 2014 (debate)

  Marielle Gallo (PPE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, since the digitisation of cultural and artistic assets, I believe that the question is the following: is Europe destined to become a land of consumption for the United States, and soon for emerging countries, or will it finally wake up and put resources towards developing its informational, cultural but also economic potential?

Naturally, I firmly believe in the richness and diversity of European culture, but I am talking today from a perspective of competitiveness to condemn a piece of nonsense and an absurdity. The piece of nonsense is free services that some people dream of, access to everything for nothing. If we were to go down that road, there would be no more investment in this sector. Creators and inventors would not be able to receive fair remuneration and they would gradually disappear. Therefore, the economic models that we are going to implement for the online movement of our cultural heritage exclude services that are free of charge.

The absurdity is the tax applied to dematerialised cultural assets from two aspects. First of all, there is a VAT distortion depending on the countries where the activity is based. For instance, American platforms have been enjoying a moratorium since 1998, which has led to their extraordinary boom. Secondly, there is a discrimination in VAT rates which penalises digital goods in relation to physical goods. I think that we need to address these two issues through legislation.

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