Education International
Education International

EU ministers seek cultural protections in talks with U.S.

published 5 July 2013 updated 11 July 2013

A group of 14 cultural ministers of the European Union are demanding that audio-visual services be excluded as a “cultural exemption” from planned free trade talks with the United States.

In an open letter issued ahead of a meeting in May and  signed by culture ministers from Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, the group called for maintaining the European Union position “which has always excluded audiovisual services, in the World Trade Organisation as well as bilateral talks, from any agreements on trade liberalisation.”

“For France, I indicated that this is a red line, it's a condition sine qua non to open negotiations for a partnership between the United States and the EU,” French Cultural Minister Aurélie Filippetti explained to reporters following the meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council.

The French minister warned that including audio-visual services such as broadcasting, motion picture production and music recording in a free trade deal with the U.S. would threaten cultural diversity in the EU.

However, ministers from the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden opposed the demand for a cultural exception fearing it could scuttle the negotiations even before they officially begin.

The vote by the culture ministers came one day after British Prime Minister David Cameron said during to Washington that all goods and services should be up for discussion in the coming negotiations.