In the March 7 News Bulletin, we discussed the letter sent by Pascal Rogard, President of the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity, to Nicolas Sarkozy, in which Rogard expressed his concerns regarding the status of culture in the current negotiations surrounding the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and recalled France’s major role in writing and promoting the text of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Following a response from Guillaume Lambert, head of the Cabinet of the President of the Republic, it was time for Laurent Wauquiez, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to respond to the concerns of the French Coalition. In a letter dated March 25, 2011, the minister started by recognizing the commitment of both France and Canada to implement the UNESCO Convention:
“France’s position within the framework of the negotiations regarding the E.U.’s economic and trade agreements with third party countries is both firm and consistent. France seeks to exclude cultural and audiovisual services from any trade liberalization commitments. France has produced a document, entitled For a New European Union External Cultural Strategy, which has been distributed to European institutions and our partners. This document notably contributed to define the major principles that guide negotiations regarding cultural cooperation. [...]
More specifically, with regard to negotiations with Canada, the Government of France firmly reiterated this position in the very mandate given to the European Commission. As a result ‘audiovisual and other cultural services’ have been excluded across the board from negotiations regarding services.
The Government of France is paying close attention to ensure that the European Commission respects these stipulations and does not fail to assert this fundamental principle of exclusion at every stage of the negotiations [...].”
For the full text of the letter from Wauquiez, visit the French Coalition website.