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Op-ed : "Creative industries, resistant in spite of crises" by Laure Kaltenbach and Olivier Leguay on The Huffington Post

Representing 6,8% of the GDP (€860 billion of added value) and 6,5% of the employment in the European Union (€14 million), the positive impact of the creative activities and industries on the GDP of the European Union on the period 2008-2011 is confirmed by Tera Consultants’ study. Noticing a significant destruction of jobs in five years, the study measures the effects of the economic crisis, of the digital development and piracy. 

Article previously published in french on the

The ‘cultural GDP’ of the EU represents 6,8% in 2011. In terms of direct and indirect impacts, the whole of creative industries (central and peripheral) represents an important part of the GDP (6,8%) and of the employment (6,5%) in the European Union in 2011, according to Tera Consultants’ study, The economic contribution of the creative industries to EU GDP and employment released  on the 16th of October in France. These results, unprecedented at the European level, remain consistent with all the studies produced in the five main countries of the EU: United-Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, which alone represent “72% of the total added value of creative industries in Europe and 68% of the jobs”. In the case of France, with 7,9% of the GDP and 6,3% of the employment in 2011, Tera’s analyses accentuate the conclusions of the IGAC/IGF report, The contribution of culture to the economy in France (at the beginning of January 2014), which evaluated what it calls the ‘cultural GDP’ to 5,8% for the same year 2011.

The French ‘cultural GDP’ between 7,9% and 5,8% in 2011. How to explain such a difference in the measurement for the same year? With the perimeter of course, which enables an increasingly more subtle approach. The study broadens the definition of the so-called “central” creative industries in the sense of the EU, integrating into the analysis the so-called “peripheral” creative industries, that is to say beforehand the suppliers and afterwards the customers (distributors-broadcasters) of the central creative industries. “This approach in terms of “sectors” enables to better measure the real scope of creative industries in the economy” Tera Consultants precises. Between 2008 and 2011, the sector proved its sturdiness: “its total economic contribution increased by 1,2% and the total employment diminished by 1,3% [representing 6,9% of the GDP, € 860 billion and 14 million jobs] while the economic contribution of service industries increased by 3,1% and the employment in this sector increased by 7,9%. But the overall stability hides huge disparities within the sector impacted according to Tera Consultants by “an aggregate value destruction between €34,5 and €47,1 billion; and an aggregate job destruction between 204 089 and 1 095 125 in the end of 2011.”

A significant resistance in spite of a double jaws effect. Creative industries resisted both an economic and financial crisis and the mutation of their economic models pulled by technological evolutions such as online music platforms or video on demand, without being accompanied with a significant revolution of regulation: “particularly in the critical field of the fight against piracy, whether it be at the EU level or in one of its biggest countries, with the exception of France where a graduate-sanction system was made operational by the creation of the High Authority of Diffusion on the Art Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (HADOPI)”. According to the authors of the study, there is an important link between the growth of creative industries and the legislation related to the protection of intellectual property.

Between €166 and €240 billion of loss in value by 2015. If digital piracy alone – needless to say – does not explain the noticed value destruction, the evolution of digital distribution and the dematerialization, etc. contribute to it. These consequences inspire Tera Consultants the following conclusion: “This match with the original forecasts (from 2008) demonstrates an obvious negative effect of piracy on the economic contribution and employment in high-value-added industries that present a strong growth potential in the digital era and a potential of sustainable international specialization for Europe in a globalized economy, beyond their essential importance for reporting the richness and diversity of European cultures”.

Three reflections to contain the crippling value destruction for creative industries and their corollary in terms of human and social cost:

  • “Adapting supply to demand will not be enough to solve the deeper problem of the crisis of confidence between cultural industries and a part of the public”, the Lescure report reminded very wisely in May 2013, insisting on the fact that cultural industries need to communicate more and more openly on the reality of their professions. This pedagogy must rely, on the one hand, on a copyright presented as necessary for financing creation and the access by consumers to diversity and, on the other on,  on awareness actions on the ground (from creators to their public), jointly with protection measures strengthened by a regulation that takes both legal (the need for specialized magistrates) and financial (managing mass practices) constraints into account.
  • Build an industrial strategy for a creative Europe by updating the three objectives proposed since May 2013 by the Lescure report, which are still relevant: “improving the online availability of cultural works, favoring the development of a fabric of innovative and cultural diversity-friendly services and stimulating the demand by supporting the emergence of affordable and ergonomic supply, respectful of the users’ rights”.
  • Finally, making a central place for cultural and creative investment, both at the local level as a lever of attractiveness and at the European level as a development and social cohesion factor for territories.

For a cultural and creative European project.