Digital technologies have reached a degree of maturity that allows their use across a wide range of economic sectors in manufacturing as well as in service industries. According to the 2010 edition of the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), more than 50% of the EU workforce use ICT in their daily work, with individual EU Member States reaching rates above 85%. Services sectors are identified as the heaviest users of ICT (for instance, more than 90% of finance employees using ICTS in their daily work), which is to be seen as a natural consequence of the increasing digitalisation of many services – such as eBanking, eCommerce, and online media.
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The Commission’s 2012 Communication on "promoting the cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the European Union" was a milestone in the recognition of the economic, social and cultural importance of these industries by the European institutions. This Communication was accompanied by two staff working documents (SWD) — one relating to the competitiveness of high-end industries , and the other to the competitiveness of the European fashion sector . This was followed by an action plan on the competitiveness of high-end industries and the European fashion sector.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's initiative to address "cross-border portability" through a regulation, but considers it necessary for a subscriber's "Member State of residence" to be clearly defined. The vacatio legis period of six months would be for the EESC a reasonable period for the service providers concerned to adapt their delivery systems to the new situation.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the package of measures to adapt copyright to the requirements of the digital economy, by aiming to eliminate fragmentation while, at the same time, enhancing protection for creators. The EESC supports the exclusive related right of publishers to authorise or prohibit the digital use of their press publications for a period of twenty years and urges to harmonise the "freedom of panorama" exception by means of European rules. The EESC also refers to the ECJ judgment stating that, under certain conditions, the lending of a digital copy of a book has similar characteristics to the lending of printed works.
The global counterfeit and pirated products industry accounts for up to 2.5 % of global trade, or the equivalent of US $461 billion.
This is equivalent to the GDP of Austria, or that of Ireland and the Czech Republic combined. Right holders, governments and the economy as a whole may suffer significant economic and social losses. A targeted analysis of the European Union shows that, in 2013, imports of counterfeit and pirated products accounted for up to 5 % of imports, or the equivalent of EUR 85 billion.
The EESC agrees with the compromise proposed by the Presidency which makes possible a swift ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.