Cultural diversity

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Mandate for E.U.-U.S. trade negotiations: the European Parliament votes in favor of excluding cultural and audiovisual services

After the European Council gave the green light to opening negotiations toward free trade with the U.S., the European Commission adopted a draft negotiation mandate in March 2013 that includes the audiovisual sector. Since discussions regarding this text were being held at the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament was consulted recently. On May 23, the European Parliament adopted (with 391 votes in favor, 191 against, and 17 abstentions) a resolution aiming to exclude cultural and audiovisual services from the mandate to negotiate free trade between the European Union and the U.S:

"11. [The European Parliament] considers it essential for the [European Union] and its Member States to maintain the possibility of preserving and developing their cultural and audiovisual policies, and to do so in the context of their existing laws, standards and agreements; therefore calling for the exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services, including those provided online, to be clearly stated in the negotiating mandate."

This position demonstrates that consideration was given to a letter signed by 13 European Culture Ministers, a petition from European filmmakers, and the mobilization of the European cultural sector. In their May 13 letter, 13 European Culture Ministers specifically requested that the audiovisual sector be excluded from negotiations toward a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. In addition, some European filmmakers started a petition denouncing the E.U.'s draft negotiation mandate for future E.U.-U.S. trade negotiations, arguing in favor of excluding audiovisual and filmmaking services.

The European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity welcomed the adoption of this resolution by the European Parliament. In a press release dated May 24, 2013 they urged the 27 Member States to "acknowledge the European Parliament's position and to follow its recommendations." The European Coalitions deem that "the exclusion of the audiovisual and cultural sectors from the E.U.-U.S. trade mandate is the one and only way to guarantee that Member States retain their sovereign right to adopt and implement cultural policies, in accordance with the 2005 UNESCO Convention."