Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Mémorandum de la France sur la Coopération culturelle européenne : Seize propositions pour une nouvelle ambition

République française, ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, février 2004 - 2004/02

In this memorandum, France lays out "a new cultural ambition for Europe" that draws on the draft European Constitution and its declaration that “the Union shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.” According to the memorandum, this declaration has concrete implications. Support measures, especially for cultural programs, will be adopted by qualified majority, along with the MEDIA program; the inclusion of a charter of fundamental rights will constitutionally recognize the importance of pluralism in the print and electronic media; and, most importantly, “by maintaining the unanimity requirement for the negotiation and conclusion of agreements in the field of trade in cultural and audiovisual services, where these risk prejudicing the Union's cultural and linguistic diversity, the draft constitution guarantees member states that the Union will be able to defend an ambitious conception of cultural diversity.” The memorandum concludes that this is a major gain for culture in Europe. However, in order to give European cultural policy new impetus, it is important to go one step further since “neither Europe nor the international system has yet made culture a core priority.” France’s objective is to convince its European partners, especially new EU members, that “more than ever, Europe must strengthen its efforts in the area of culture, not only to defend cultural diversity within its borders, but to promote it internationally through positive initiatives.”
To do so, the memorandum sets out five political priories for Europe, expressed in 16 concrete proposals: 1) promote cultural diversity in Europe and worldwide through two multilateral objectives, i.e., prevent liberalization of audiovisual services in EU trade agreements, especially with WTO, while at the same time working through UNESCO for the adoption of a binding legal instrument that recognizes the specificity of cultural goods and services; 2) guarantee the specificity and volume of cultural sector funding through EU funding and by legitimizing national funding programs; 3) encourage the development of cultural industries by applying the reduced VAT rate in the recording industry and by protecting intellectual and artistic property against piracy; 4) raise European ambitions in the audiovisual sector by reinforcing the “Television without frontiers” directive and the MEDIA+ program and by introducing new measures to promote the film industry outside Europe’s borders; and 5) encourage cultural exchanges within Europe to help foster creative vitality and the development of a European spirit by facilitating artist mobility and the circulation of works, and by developing a European cultural heritage label. (Available also in French, English and German)