[A2k] Brian Beary: France firm on excluding audiovisual sector from TTIP (and an optimistic survey on TTIP)

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Thu Apr 25 10:49:21 PDT 2013


France firm on excluding audiovisual sector from TTIP
By Brian Beary in Washington | Wednesday 24 April 2013

The French government has again made clear that it wants audiovisual
services excluded from the European Commission’s negotiating mandate for a
future EU-US free trade agreement. “The cultural industry, and in
particular the audiovisual industry, has never featured in a commercial
treaty before,” French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq told Europolitics during
a visit to Washington, on 23 April. “Why change our position?” she said.
She expressed “surprise” that Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht wants
audiovisual services included “even though the Americans are not yet asking
for this”. Bricq noted how a former Trade Commissioner, Leon Brittan, tried
to get the audiovisual sector included in the Uruguay Round of world trade
talks in the 1990s but was quickly rebuffed by member states. “It has never
been attempted since,” she said.

Bricq had also raised the issue at a closed session of the informal EU
Trade Council in Dublin, on 19 April. “France was not isolated” in that
discussion and any suggestion to the contrary was “not true,” she insisted.
But the minister was also keen to stress that she wanted this accord - the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - to succeed. “I am
not substituting myself as the EU’s negotiator,” she added. Both
Commissioner De Gucht and the Irish EU Presidency are pushing hard for the
Council of Ministers to adopt the Commission’s TTIP negotiating mandate on
14 June. Bricq did not explicitly call into question that target deadline,
saying only that the talks would be “long and difficult”. The minister
spelled out what the future sticking points would likely be. On
agriculture, she confirmed opposition to genetically modified foods,
hormone-treated beef, and to allowing the generic use of terms like
‘champagne’ and ‘chateau’ in the wine sector. Europe also needed to be on
the offensive, she argued, in pushing US state governments to give
reciprocal access to their procurement markets to EU firms.

While in Washington, Bricq met President Barack Obama’s top international
economic advisor, Michael Froman, and Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam
Sapiro. In addition, she had meetings with environmental non-governmental
organisations and with the umbrella US trade union federation, the AFL-CIO.
She said she told Froman and Sapiro that the TTIP needed to be “a
relationship of equals” and “not a mere free trade agreement”. During her
press briefing, she was accompanied by French MEP Catherine Trautmann
(S&D). Asked the latest feeling about TTIP in Parliament, Trautmann told
Europolitics that enthusiasm was greatest in the Committee on International
Trade (INTA), whereas other committees like industry and agriculture had
more reservations. Trautmann noted that the US had defensive areas too, in
particular the financial services sector where it was dragging its heels in
adopting global standards.

Survey shows optimistic outlook

The Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, and the Bertelsmann
Foundation, on 16 April, published the results of a survey, which found
there to be solid support for TTIP in the business and academic worlds, and
in administrations and legislatures. About 120 participated in the survey,
which was conducted from 7 March to 1 April and targeted trade policy
experts mainly in Brussels, Washington DC and Germany. Some 88% of
respondents thought that the EU and US would be able to clinch an agreement
of some sort. Asked about its scope, 37% believed it would be broad, 55%
moderate, and 8% small or that there would be no agreement. A plurality of
respondents, 28%, gave 2015 as the likely date for the agreement taking
effect. The most difficult nuts to crack in the negotiations would be
genetically modified foods, hormone-treated meat, data privacy issues and
procurement markets, respondents predicted.

Manon Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
manon.ress at keionline.org
tel.: +1 202 332 2670

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