On July 26, 2011, German Eurodeputies Ms. Helga Trüpel and Ms. Petra Kammerevert used the parliamentary mechanism of written questions to ask European trade commissioner, Mr. Karel De Gucht, about the trade negotiations currently underway towards the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
Their questions addressed the way the cultural sector will be handled in this agreement and, in a broader sense, reconciliation of the cultural policy of the European Commission and its cultural commitments under the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
In a statement made on September 13, 2011, the European trade commissioner replied to the concerns of both parliamentarians, specifically addressing the issue of the diversity of cultural expressions as follows:
“Cultural diversity is a matter which is important both for the EU and Canada. Both Parties consider that it is important to promote cultural diversity, while at the same time ensuring that the EU-Canada CETA is an ambitious agreement, providing for a deep level of economic integration.”
In response to a question from Trüpel regarding whether there were differences of opinion between the EU and Canada over certain cultural services and their classification, Mr. De Gucht explained that “at the current stage of the negotiations with Canada, the Commission is not in a position to state whether there are different views relating to cultural services and their classification.”
According to the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity, Mr. De Gucht’s answer “does not clarify whether or not Europe will accept the complete exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services (usually referred to as a general cultural exemption), which Canada normally seeks in its bilateral agreements.”