[A2k] FT: Hollande wants right to 'cultural exception' [in TTIP]

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sun Mar 17 03:51:27 PDT 2013

Last updated: March 15, 2013 8:19 pm
Hollande wants right to ‘cultural exception’
By Joshua Chaffin in Brussels

France is demanding that a system designed to limit foreign television and music on its airwaves not be discussed as part of broader transatlantic trade pact.

“I want these issues out of the negotiation,” François Hollande, the French president, told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels.

He also noted that France required “guarantees about a number of fields,” including health standards, before it would give its assent to an EU mandate to begin negotiations.

The French leader’s comments are a reminder of thesensitivities lying in wait for negotiators as they prepare to embark on talks to create the world’s largest trade agreement.

They also reflect lingering concern in France and other EU member states about the fate of such media regulations in spite of assurances last week from the bloc’s trade chief that they would not have to make adjustments.

Tariffs between the two sides are generally low. Instead, the US and EU will focus on trying to harmonise competing regulatory standards for everything from automobile safety to food. The deal would be weakened if the parties end up excluding too many sectors where they cannot find agreement.

Mr Hollande said he supported opening a negotiation “in order to tackle a number of things that slow down trade so that we can promote growth”. But Paris has so far displayed far less public enthusiasm for a deal that Berlin and London have embraced.

A chief French concern is the “cultural exception”, which allows the government to restrict the number of foreign programmes on French television and radio. It also supplies subsidies for French film production.

At Hollywood’s behest, the US tried – and failed – to challenge the cultural exception during negotiations in the early 1990s.

Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, has pleaded for as broad a mandate as possible so that he would not be handcuffed in negotiations.

Yet he sought to reassure the French last week, promising that “member states will continue to be able to support their cultural industries and the audio visual sector, in particular, such as through broadcasting quotas or subsidies”.


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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