Parliamentary question - P-002143/2011Parliamentary question

Treatment of audiovisual and cultural services in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada

Question for written answer P-002143/2011
to the Commission
Rule 117
Kader Arif (S&D)

According to recent information from the Quebec Ministry of Culture (, the European Commission is seeking to include the liberalisation of certain cultural services, in particular publishing, in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) currently being negotiated with Canada.

As with audiovisual services, the inclusion of cultural services in trade negotiations would inevitably lead to their being used as a bargaining chip in order to obtain advantages in other important economic sectors, preventing them from receiving the special treatment required. Furthermore, European demands to liberalise the Canadian publishing sector would have harmful consequences for cultural and linguistic diversity, particularly in Quebec, which has developed specific support policies in this area.

Is the Commission aware that this stance calls into question undertakings given on cultural diversity? The European Union played a leading role in the adoption and ratification of the Unesco Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, an international instrument which recognises the special nature of cultural goods and services and Members' sovereign right to adopt cultural policies.

Will an approach which involves, on the one hand, defending and promoting cultural diversity and, on the other, taking an offensive line in these sectors at the expense of trading partners' cultural policies not lead to the loss of the European Union's credibility in the area of cultural diversity? Does the Commission intend to demonstrate a concrete commitment to cultural diversity by developing a coherent external policy that respects cultural diversity, above all with Canada, with which it shares the values of cultural diversity?

Following the negotiation of the Protocol on Cultural Cooperation annexed to the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and South Korea, the Commission noted that it would be putting forward a strategy on protocols on cultural cooperation in order to prevent cultural and audiovisual services from being the subject of deals and compromises during trade negotiations. Has a relevant document already been drawn up? If so, has it been submitted to the Council? Will the European Parliament and civil society be informed and consulted on this matter?

OJ C 294 E, 06/10/2011