Culture and European trade negotiations : a rather unsatisfactory answer from the European Trade Commissioner
Mrs Trüpel and Mrs Kammerevert, German eurodeputies who are following up on culture and trade negotiations have put forward two written questions to European Trade Commisioner Karel de Gucht. The questions dealt with the treatment of the cultural sector in the EU-Canada agreement being negotiated and more generally with the way the Commission manages to balance its cultural commitments (2005 Unesco Convention) with its trade policy.
The Commissioner’s common answer to both deputies does not bring any new information on the Europeans’ agreement with regards to the horizontal exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services usually defended by the Canadians in the bilateral negotiations. M. de Gucht only indicates that, to the present moment, the Commission is not in a position to say whether the Canadians and the Europeans have different points of view on the cultural services and what are their classifications.
As far as the respect of the UNESCO Convention is concerned, the European Trade Commissioner states again that the Commission takes the UNESCO Convention into consideration and indicates the Commission’s intention to guarantee in the best possible way the independence of the cultural cooperation from trade negotiations. One must however point out that the strategy on Cultural Cooperation Protocols which the Commission had committed to set up already a year ago in response to the mobilization of the European cultural and audiovisual sectors on the EU-Korean trade agreement, still has not been made public despite M. de Gucht’s statements on the subject. His statements on a consultation soon to come with the European Parliament and civil society has been mentioned again in his reply.