Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

“The fight for cultural diversity is part of a global framework”

Louis Michel, Commissaire européen au Développement et à l’Aide humanitaire, le 8 juillet 2005 – 2005/07/08

Speaking on the occasion of the 31st session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (PAF) held in Brussels from July 4 to 9, 2005, to debate the theme “the contribution of the Francophonie to cultural diversity in the globalization movement,” Mr. Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid maintained that the “fight for cultural diversity is part of a global framework.” Stressing that the year 2006 was declared the “Year of Cultural Diversity” by the Francophonie, Mr. Michel asserted that “this is not simply a demanding, combative, and exclusive defense of the French language, but rather the defense of everything whose use furthers openness to others.” He went on to declare that “certain bilateral agreements and international negotiations may fail to address governments’ ability to intervene in culture. Certain major powers have signed a number of free trade agreements, which may compromise states’ power to adopt measures supporting their cultural policies and national cultural industries. We are keeping a close eye on the matter. That is why I expressed our satisfaction with the cooperation between UNESCO and the International Agency of the Francophonie, in film and audiovisual production for example. The EU and AIF cofinance the production, distribution, and promotion of many films in French-speaking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. This is also why we welcomed the signing of the agreement formalizing PAF-UNESCO cooperation on July 4, especially with regard to the protection of cultural diversity.”

At the seminar of the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe (ADLE), which took place in Strasbourg on July 6, 2005, on the theme “La politique de développement de l’UE : Enjeux et propositions de la Commission,” Mr. Louis Michel described a few components of the European Union’s strategy for Africa and asserted that “culture is a key factor in development that is all too often forgotten. Yet, it is paramount. The challenge is to preserve Africa’s heritage and cultural diversity while encouraging cultural production and celebrating cultural heritage. Greater attention must be paid to the future of culture as a field of cooperation. Culture is the soul and expression of a people. Culture determines the way a society functions, thereby determining its economic structure. That’s why I believe that only by taking Africa’s societal and cultural distinctiveness into account, in all its wealth and diversity, can we adapt our development aid to the continent’s real situation and in doing so make it more effective. The notion of partner countries taking the situation in hand plays a key role: this should naturally lead to systematic consideration of social and cultural dimensions.” [05-23]