In an article entitled “Albanel protests against an agreement between Europe and South Korea” published on its website, French magazine Le Point relates excerpts from its March 18 interview with French culture minister Christine Albanel.
“France is very concerned about the conditions in which negotiations are being held between the European Union and South Korea. The Brussels Commission has no mandate to sign this agreement under conditions that threaten cultural diversity,” declared the minister.
According to the article, the minister “wishes to state her great concern and feels that France cannot accept a free trade protocol that would lead to the unjustified entry of Europe-Korea productions into Europe. According to France, current negotiations pose serious problems, starting with the very form they are taking. In the same discussion, the negotiators from Brussels have combined talks on industrial free trade (lower customs tariffs on things like automobiles) with the signing of a protocol on cultural cooperation. This intermingling does not comply with the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, which explicitly states that culture must not be included in trade negotiations, specifically to avoid its use as a bargaining chip.” The full text of the interview is available on the INFO LEPOINT.FR website.
At the same time, the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity reiterated its concern regarding these negotiations. In a March 18 press release, the Coalition states that “the cultural sector, strongly mobilized thanks in large part to the European Coalition for Cultural Diversity, has succeeded in securing the (as yet unattained) ratification of the UNESCO Convention by Korea as a mandatory condition for the coming into effect of the protocol on cultural cooperation. However, this guarantee is insufficient because it does not break with the Commission’s approach of including culture in international trade negotiations (…). We are concerned about the significant advantages the European Commission is offering Korean negotiators in the audiovisual sector, before any impact study has been carried out on European creations.”
“The French Coalition for Cultural Diversity states that issues relating to culture and the audiovisual sector require the common agreement of Member States. It therefore asks the French government to strongly oppose this type of international trade negotiation, which ignores the special nature of cultural products. The French Coalition for Cultural Diversity also encourages French authorities to make every effort to ensure that free specific negotiations regarding cultural protocol with Korea be undertaken independently of trade negotiations.” The press release is available at the Coalition website.