Ministère de la culture et de la Communication de France, le 16 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/16
Culture ministers from the 25 EU states met in Brussels to adopt the European Commission mandate for negotiating the UNESCO draft convention on cultural diversity.
French minister of culture and communication Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres was pleased with the outcome, which satisfied France’s aspirations and marked a major step on the road to finalizing the international convention. He pointed out that the mandate maintains a balance by affording the Commission a role in UNESCO negotiations by virtue of its exclusive jurisdiction over European trade policy, while at the same time guaranteeing the right of members states to negotiate on issues under their own jurisdiction.
In an article in Le Figaro, Paule Gonzales points out that the convention will not only influence the future of the audiovisual and film industry in EU member states, but will also protect and secure respect for cultural diversity no matter what happens in WTO negotiations. She noted that one of the cornerstones of the future convention is Article 19, which currently exists in two version. The first version would protect existing instruments and treaties. The second, a French initiative, qualifies this protection, guaranteeing it only so long as cultural diversity is not threatened. This clarification makes a huge difference because it would give the future UNESCO convention the leverage to potentially block any WTO negotiations affecting this sacrosanct principle. Gonzales writes that as everybody knows, the value of the future UNESCO convention will hinge on its capacity to settle disputes that arise in the course of international negotiations. Mr. De Vabres argues that, “EU endorsement of the future UNESCO convention is crucial if it is to have force of law in multilateral trade negotiations, as the French government wishes.” ( Available in French )