Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to participate in this meeting. We are living in most unusual times and I hope your members are doing the best they can in these challenging circumstances.

Let me start by saying congratulations to ICMP on your 30 year anniversary – I hope you get to have a proper birthday celebration at some point in the future!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Covid-19 pandemic has upended all sectors of the economy and society.

This is without question one of the biggest crises facing our generation and it will have far-reaching impacts on public health as well as on the economy and employment.

The European Commission is working night and day to coordinate a meaningful Europe-wide response.

As the weeks pass and Member States and their health systems come to terms with the public health emergency, there is an increasing focus on economic recovery.

The Commission published its revised MFF proposal for the next EU budget last week, which includes a comprehensive €750 billion Recovery Instrument – named “Next Generation EU”.  This instrument combined with the MFF means we have a total amount of €1.85 trillion in financial firepower to drive our recovery from Covid-19.

We believe that this represents an ambitious statement of intent, and the appropriate response to a crisis which has impacted on every Member State and every sector.

Of course I am also aware that the music sector has been badly hit by the COVID crisis.

Music publishers, together with artists, are suffering particularly badly from the closing down of live events and the drop in broadcast and performance rights revenue.

This presents challenges for the industry that were unimaginable just a few months ago. It is striking how the music community has been united in its efforts to support those affected, namely artists, musicians and industry employees around the world.

ICMP’s voice has been heard by my colleagues and I in the European Commission, and we are glad to see your industry throw its support behind our initiatives for economic recovery.

I can only hope that the sector emerges from this crisis stronger and more creative than ever, and I look forward to hearing your views on how our European trade policy and related policies can play their part.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-crisis is having a considerable impact on global trade. According to the WTO, world merchandise trade is set to plummet by between 13 and 32% this year.

Trade policy will have an important contribution to make in the recovery phase, a fact that is clearly spelled out in the Commission’s Recovery Communication published last week.

Pre-COVID, international trade was one of the key drivers of growth in the EU. Post-COVID we must build on this strength and improve our performance even further.

Intellectual property will be one of the important levers for growth in the recovery phase. This is one of Europe's comparative advantages on the world market, and of course the Commission recognises your industry’s central role in developing this value. We must take advantage of this in our economic recovery and trade policy planning.

Music represents a hugely important pillar of European culture and globally, it is probably the cultural and creative sector with the largest audience reach.

Your industry is also one of the pillars of our Digital Single Market In which there are more than 65 million musical works, accessible instantaneously, on more than 300 digital service providers. Digital is already our present, and as you know, under this Commission it is one of our absolute priorities for the future.

I have seen the 2019 figures from the recorded music sector, which show the industry is growing globally.  Total revenues for recorded music grew by 8.2% to reach just over €18 billion last year. Much of this growth is generated by income from new digital streaming services, which already generated half of total industry revenue.

Of course, 2019 figures may seem redundant given the current crisis but they highlight the underlying strengths of the industry. We have heard the initial short-term commercial projections from ICMP, and like so many other sectors of the economy, these are hugely challenging. We will continue to work with you to weather the storm.

This matters hugely in Europe because we have some of the world’s largest music markets, notably France and Germany.

It matters because the music industry today is the kind of forward-looking digital industry that Europe wants to foster.

And it matters because music is a strong export for Europe – one only has to think of Sweden, where ever since the days of ABBA music has been a phenomenal success for Swedish exports. But we also have the example of your partner companies at Spotify and Deezer – these were European start-ups just a few years ago and now rank among the world’s largest music streaming platforms. 

Of course, music should not only be thought of in economic terms.  Music is essential for European culture. The soft power that the European musical heritage reflects cannot be bought or measured in economic terms. ICMP is unique in that it represents some of the world’s oldest companies, some established in Europe more than 300 years ago.

This soft power is invaluable. It is also highly relevant in global trade and that is why we have to protect it in Europe and also in third countries.

European companies thrive worldwide thanks to innovation, creativity and brand exclusivity, which are some of the EU’s main comparative advantages on the world market. And of course, Intellectual Property Rights are the tools we use to safeguard this competitive advantage.

Effective recognition, protection, valuation and enforcement of IPRs, including copyright, is a priority of our EU trade policy. The EU recognises that copyright is the bedrock of the market. It is sometimes forgotten that in Europe it is a fundamental right. Without its fair recognition, the market loses its fair value.

Our trade agreements are designed to ensure that EU rights holders enjoy effective protection of their intellectual property in partner countries, and also that they have adequate measures at their disposal to enforce these rights.

We also devote considerable efforts to international cooperation in relation to the enforcement of rights.

This is crucial, because piracy is a global problem with a cross-border nature and it is the cause of significant financial losses to EU rightholders and legitimate businesses globally.

In this context, and after a wide public consultation, we publish on a biennial basis:

A Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List which presents examples of reported marketplaces and service providers which reportedly engage in, facilitate or benefit from counterfeiting and piracy;

And a Third Country Report which identifies third countries in which the state of IPR protection and enforcement, both online and offline, gives rise to the greatest level of concern.

DG TRADE also maintains regular IP Dialogues with some priority trading partners around the world such as the US, China, Korea, Thailand and Turkey.

The Commission finances and steers various technical cooperation programmes which aim to strengthen IPR protection and enforcement in third countries.

Present cooperation programmes cover China, Latin America and South-East Asia - all crucial markets for Europe’s music sector. With close cooperation, we can ensure Europe remains at the forefront of the global market.

Looking to the future, we plan to do even more on the enforcement side, particularly as it relates to our wide network of EU trade agreements.

With a stronger emphasis on implementation, we can achieve positive outcomes on both sides of the equation: our exporters will gain more value from our partner markets, and we will have outstanding opportunities to promote our standards and values around the world.

Our agenda for stronger implementation is already well under way, proven by the fact that we will soon appoint an EU Chief Trade Enforcement Officer (CTEO) for the first time.

The CTEO will ensure that any potential barriers to market access or non-compliance issues are identified early on and that appropriate action is taken.

This work will include putting in place an effective process to receive complaints and to streamline the follow-up on all implementation and enforcement issues. If there is a problem, we want the response to be swift and effective. This is a “Europe that protects” in action.

With the CTEO in position, we can expect to extract even more value for our companies from our unparalleled web of trade deals.

This can and should be warmly welcomed, because restarting our export machine will absolutely vital for our post-Coronavirus economic recovery.

The EU’s strength and economic prosperity is built on openness, both within our single market and in our global action.

Indeed, our openness before the crisis ranked among the highest in the world with 35 million European jobs depending on exports and 16 million European jobs depending on foreign investment. In other words, one out of 7 jobs is dependent on exports.

I mentioned earlier that your sector, like all sectors of the economy, is taking a severe hit from the coronavirus.

I also mentioned that we want our shared European trade policy to do everything it can to drive economic recovery, for your industry and all others.

The Covid-19 pandemic is reshaping the world as we know it, and trade policy needs to be proactive rather than reactive in relation to anticipating the “new normal”.

In view of this reality, I have decided to bring forward a review of our trade policy, including WTO reform, from 2021 to 2020 and it has been included in the Commission’s adjusted Work Programme for 2020, which was published last week.

This review will give us the opportunity to shape a policy that impacts on all of us.

Although it is just five years since our last major trade policy communication, “Trade for All”, was published, the world has changed enormously since then.

The rise of China, the retreat of the United States, the exponential growth of the digital economy, the escalating climate crisis, our rapidly expanded network of EU free trade agreements, Brexit: all of these factors demand a fresh look at the “why” and “how” of our shared EU Trade Policy.

You have all seen the headlines asking if this moment represents the “death of globalisation”. We, in the European Union, cannot and should not shy away from this debate.  Nor should we bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the status quo is adequate or even acceptable.

Instead, we should work together to produce a policy that will help us show leadership in shaping a strong global trade and investment environment, with a fit-for-purpose international rulebook underpinning it.

I will launch the public consultation phase of the trade policy review within a few weeks and my services are currently finalising a consultation paper.

I am pleased to inform you of the Commission’s intentions and I invite you all to participate in the consultation process.

The music industry knows all about adaptability, resilience and engaging global audiences. So your views are highly valued and I look forward to hearing your input.

The goal is to conclude this review with the adoption of a new Communication towards the end of the year.

Finally, I would like to say a word about the need for stronger communication around trade policy and how it impacts on the lives of workers and consumers.

Since my first day in this job, I have taken a strong view that we need to do much more to present a balanced and informed view to the public.

We need to make a strong case that, yes, trade can benefit our citizens’ quality of life, by creating employment and growth at home; but equally it can be a force for good abroad, contributing to higher standards worldwide.

As Commissioner I have called on all stakeholders - politicians, industry, and civil society – to do more to inform the public about how international trade can benefit our citizens’ quality of life, create jobs, support labour and environmental rights, and provide policy leverage for other public goods and standards.

Too often, people perceive trade as something abstract, rather than a positive agenda that supports 1 in 7 jobs. Our studies show that every €1 billion in exports supports 14,000 high quality European jobs.

Intellectual Property Rights and other key priorities for the music industry are part of this discussion.

When our trade deals or other aspects of our trade policy face political or public criticism, we need to be ready and willing to respond, especially if the criticism deviates from the facts.

For example, it is not sufficient for the EU just to get its copyright policy right. We need to maintain a positive dialogue with our citizens in relation to the basics of IP rights and we need to explain their benefits.

Clarity of messaging was central to the significant policy advances made in relation to European IPR in the last 12 months. Going forward, we should aim to do even more.

I am calling on you to do your part in this positive communication campaign. As we strive to recover from Covid-19, we need to create a positive narrative to win the support of our citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen, music is being consumed more than ever before and it remains central to our lives.

I am sure that this period of lockdowns and restrictions has given people renewed opportunities and time to rediscover their old favourites and listen to lots of new music too.

I am fully aware that while access to music is at an all-time high, the challenges for those that create and invest in music are considerable, notably in terms of piracy and lack of recognition of rights in key third countries.

The European Commission stands ready to work with industry to address the challenges further on up the road, and collectively shape strong and appropriate policy solutions. Thank you.