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MEPs vote for “cultural exception”

The European Parliament has voted to keep culture out of EU-US trade talks.

The move seeks to exclude audiovisual services from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership “in order to protect the cultural and linguistic diversity of EU countries”.

It passed with 381 in favour, 191 opposed and 19 abstentions.

Talks are set to begin next between the European Union and US that aim to increase commerce between the two economies.

Close to 5,500 directors, writers, technicians, producers, distributors, exhibitors across Europe signed a petition in favour of excluding culture from the talks. High profile names included the Dardennes, Wim Wenders,Michael Haneke, Mike Leigh, Michel Hazanavicius, Aki Kaurismaki, Stephen Frears and Pedro Almodovar.

“In Europe, cinema is part of our language, part of our culture, like painting or literature or music,” Wenders stated in a press briefing in Cannes. “If we accept the American proposition of using it (film) as industrial product, we pull the plug from our entire industry. A few years later, there will not be any more European movies.”

Following the vote, MEP Silvia Costa said: “Our fight has been rewarded. This outcome saves the European cultural industry from American colonization.”

Eurocinema, Europa Cinemas, Europa Distribution, Europa International, the European Producers Club, FERA, FIAD, SAA and UNIC congratulated the European Parliament for voting in favour of the resolution.

Referring the petition, a statement said: “European cinema thanks the MEPs for their understanding of the challenges at stake for culture and for their support to European filmmakers who expressed themselves in favour of such exclusion.

“This vote is historic and we welcome its political impact.”

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