Ambassador Gardner’s Remarks at “Inside Out” Exclusive Screening

Thank you.  It is a pleasure for me and my wife Sandra to welcome you this evening on behalf of the U.S. Mission to the European Union for an exclusive screening of the newest Disney-Pixar creation, Inside Out.

We are grateful for the support of our partners in presenting tonight’s film, especially to Thomas Spiller of the Walt Disney Company and Vivien Haig of the Transatlantic Policy Network. Thank you, Thomas, for this opportunity to share the newest creation of Disney-Pixar with our friends and colleagues from across the European institutions and their families.

Most of us have some memory of our first encounter with Disney as a child: delighting over Cinderella’s transformation into a princess or hiding our eyes as Snow White’s evil stepmother creates that poisonous apple. Even as adults we can still enjoy the humor and warmth of Disney’s productions, as we will see with tonight’s film.

Sometimes we forget that the Disney Company grew from humble beginnings. Returning to Kansas City after serving as an ambulance driver in France during the Great War, young artist Walt Disney became immersed in the new medium of animation. He and his brother Roy decided to start a cartoon studio.

Disney’s beginnings might sound familiar to today’s young entrepreneurs across the United States and Europe: the love of design and excitement over new technologies. Two brothers pooling money to start a company. The inevitable first failure: bankruptcy, even IPR battles. And finally, after years of hard work, a successful company that has become a household name the world over.

We’ve partnered with Disney tonight because it exemplifies the important role of the digital economy–and U.S. companies–in creating jobs and opportunities in Europe. Disney alone employs over 21,000 people across 23 European countries and like other American companies is an integral part of the creative sector on this continent.

Disney has moved beyond its celluloid roots to become a true tech company. This is especially evident in tonight’s film, the latest Pixar creation using cutting edge technology to tell stories full of heart and soul. Disney encourages innovation and creative storytelling, developing quality content often based on European history, culture, and treasured stories. And along with other tech companies active in Europe, it is also contributing to the growth of the transatlantic digital economy, creating jobs and promoting innovation.

American companies are an integral part of the digital economy in Europe. With the launch of the iTunes App Store in 2008, for example, a new industry was born. According to a report prepared for the European Commission, EU app developers took in 17.5 billion euros in revenue in 2013, creating a million jobs since the App Store’s launch.

Meanwhile, Facebook recently announced that its social network enabled 783,000 jobs in Europe in 2014, while thousands of micro-entrepreneurs have launched their own YouTube channels and are now making six-figures annually. And these are only the big names.

As Under Secretary Cathy Novelli noted on her recent visit to Brussels, “The U.S. and the EU are the two largest net exporters of digital goods and services to the rest of the world. … The growth of the EU’s digital economy is impressive and, with the right policies on both sides of the Atlantic, our digital economies can grow even more.”

We support a strong, single digital EU market that promotes creativity, growth, freedom and knowledge in the EU and worldwide. We believe it can strengthen Trans-Atlantic ties and the world economy. And we believe that American companies are an important part of both the EU digital single market and the transatlantic digital economy.

Working together, the United States and the EU can support the next generation of dreamers and innovators to take their love of a new technology or a creative idea and grow it into a business, creating jobs and providing services—or just sheer entertainment—to consumers around the world.

Enough policy for the night. We’re here to enjoy the product of all that creative energy and form new Disney memories with our children. Thank you for joining us tonig