Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Recommendation from the Commission to the Council to authorise the Commission to participate, on behalf of the Community, in the negotiations within UNESCO on the convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions

Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, September 01, 2004 - 2004/09/01

On September 1, 2004, the European Commission adopted a draft recommendation to the Council to authorise the Commission to participate, on behalf of the Community, in the negotiations within UNESCO on the convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions. According to the Commission, the preliminary draft convention affects internal and external policies at both member state and Community levels. It may therefore affect the acquis communautaire and Community policies specifically in the cultural field, for example cultural policy (Culture 2000), audiovisual policy ("Television without Frontiers" Directive, MEDIA Programme), freedom of movement for cultural goods and services intellectual property, and cultural aspects of our development policies. Moreover, the PDC affects not only existing instruments, but also the Community’s capacity to develop new instruments. Furthermore, certain provisions of the preliminary draft require the parties to take specific measures which fall within the scope of Community jurisdiction. This is the case as regards the free circulation and mobility of artists and creators; the facilitation of access to global markets for works from developing countries; the relationship to other international instruments; the international consultation and coordination; the intellectual property. According to the Commission, the aspect relating to international cooperation in general has therefore implications on the Community policies and instruments in that field. In addition, the absence of a "disconnection clause" to preserve the specific relations between the Parties in a single regional integration area would require the PDC to regulate the relationships between Member States of the European Union as regards cultural diversity matters.

In conclusion, «the Commission considers that it is important for the Community and its Member States to confirm at international level their commitment to cultural diversity. It considers that a common European Union approach is necessary in order to contribute effectively to the development of a world-wide strategy for the safeguarding and the promotion of cultural diversity». The Commission also considers necessary that «the Council decides that the European Community participates in the negotiations in UNESCO on the preliminary draft convention, in order to preserve the Community acquis and competences and to assert the interests of the Community in these negotiations». It further recommends that the Council also rule that, insofar as the agreement comes partly under the Member States competence and, partly, under Community competence, the Commission and the Member States should closely cooperate during the negotiations, with a view to achieving unity in the international representation of the Community. To this end, the Commission is considering the following negotiation directives: ensure that the provisions of the future UNESCO convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions are consistent with the acquis communautaire and with the objectives, procedures and measures of the relevant Community policies, in particular as regards culture, audiovisual, internal market, competition, intellectual property, international trade and cooperation for development. It shall also ensure the safeguarding of the Community’s capacity to develop its policies in accordance with the Treaties; ensure that the future convention contains appropriate provisions guaranteeing the primacy of Community law over the provisions of the convention with regard to the relationships between Member States of the European Union; ensure that the future convention contains appropriate provisions enabling the European Community to become a contracting party to it. (Available in French and English) [73]