Joint answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission Written questions : E-007372/11 , E-007373/11
The EU‑Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will combine the provisions typical of existing free trade agreements with new provisions on investment protection.
In this context, as in previous negotiations, the objective which the EU has pursued so far is to ensure that the EU and its Member States preserve the possibility to adopt and maintain measures necessary to pursue legitimate policy objectives, including in areas such as culture, audiovisual services and education. As a result, EU trade agreements are sufficiently flexible to ensure adequate treatment of these areas, permitting broad sectoral coverage by the trading partners while ensuring consistency with the WTO obligations, notably those of Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
Information regarding the specific WTO/GATS commitments of all WTO Members is made publically available by the WTO(1).
The eventual content of the agreement with Canada, and hence any reservations, including in its Annexes, of schedules for services and investment depends on the result of the negotiations between the Parties. In the current absence of an exchange of offers between the Parties, discussions on possible reservations in this area, including on the concrete content of the annexes, have yet to take place between the EU and Canada. The listing of reservations in the agreement with Canada will include not only measures at the central level of government but also at sub-national level, including regional and local level. The Commission is currently working internally on the scope and modalities of possible reservations in this area. The Commission will continue to report regularly to Parliament on the progress of negotiations, in full compliance with Article 207 paragraph 3 TFEU and the provisions of the framework Agreement on relations between Parliament and Commission.
Cultural diversity is a matter which is important both for the EU and Canada. Both Parties consider that it is important to promote cultural diversity, while at the same time ensuring that the EU‑Canada CETA is an ambitious agreement, providing for a deep level of economic integration. However, at the current stage of the negotiations with Canada, the Commission is not in a position to state whether there are different views relating to cultural services and their classification.
The Commission has made public its intention to address in a strategy document the general approach regarding the negotiation of Protocols or other similar frameworks on cultural cooperation with third countries in relation to trade negotiations. A concept paper on the negotiation of protocols of cultural cooperation in EU trade agreements with third countries has been produced by the Commission. It has recently been presented to relevant working parties in the Council and will be presented and discussed with Parliament and civil society in the very near future.
The work of the Commission is based on close cooperation among its Directorates General. The manner in which Directorates General organise their work and cooperation is entirely an internal matter.
The 2005 Unesco Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions stresses the dual nature of cultural activities, goods and services, that have both an economic and a cultural nature. The Commission takes the Convention fully into account and endeavours to foster mutual supportiveness and to enhance complementarity between the Convention and trade agreements.
The current negotiations with Canada are fully in line with this approach.
The Commission notes that cultural cooperation does not necessarily have to take place in the framework of the current trade agreement, and that it depends entirely on the need for cultural cooperation between the Parties. Moreover, it is the Commission's intention to ensure to the maximum possible extent the autonomy of potential negotiations on cultural cooperation. Negotiations on cultural cooperation will be part of a trade agreement only where it is technically necessary, in light of both Parties' commitments under the WTO/GATS. It should be noted that both the EU and Canada have retained a maximum degree of flexibility in undertaking their respective WTO/GATS commitments in order to maintain the possibility for enhanced bilateral cultural cooperation, with regard to the types of cultural cooperation that they intend to envisage in the future.
Therefore, the possibility to engage in future cultural cooperation, including through a potential future agreement on cultural cooperation, is already guaranteed.