High-profile delegation heads to Strasbourg to defend ‘cultural exception’.

A high-profile industry delegation, including actress Berenice Bejo (The Artist, The Past) and Oscar and Palme d’Or-winning director Costa-Gavras, will travel to the European Parliament in Strasbourg next Tuesday [June 11] to defend the exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services, including online services, from upcoming EU-US trade talks.

The European Parliament recently voted in favour of the exclusion.

Also among the delegation will be acclaimed directors Cristian Mungiu, Radu Mihaileanu, Daniele Luchetti and Lucas Belvaux.

The group will host a press conference to update on the state of negotiations three days before the Foreign Affairs Council meets in Dublin, at which EU trade ministers will agree the negotiation mandate for the EU-US free-trade talks, which are due to take place later this year.

Among the 6,200 industry to sign a petition calling on cultural and audiovisual services to be excepted from the talks are directors Michael Haneke, David Lynch, Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach, Walter Salles, Paolo Sorrentino, Mike Leigh, Stephen Frears and Jane Campion. 

The fear among signatories is that European film industries could be damaged by a greater influx of US films should there be a relaxation of trade barriers and increasing commerce between the EU and US.

The Dardenne brothers and Harvey Weinstein were among those to express support for the cause during the Cannes Film Festival.

EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said last Friday that while European Union member states should be allowed to maintain subsidies for film and radio, they should open up the audio-visual sectors - in areas such as digital TV, and internet technology - so they are not completely closed to US companies.

“All we want member states to consider, in fact, is whether they really need the possibility of excluding 100% of foreign audio-visual productions (in trade negotiations),” the trade commissioner said at an event in Madrid.

“Taking a whole sector off the table would run counter to Europe’s interest in obtaining a broad and comprehensive agreement,” he said.

The ‘cultural exception’ is a concept which aims to treat culture differently than, and separately from, other commercial products, espcially during trade negotiation, thereby safeguarding local cultures.

For more details on the petition: https://www.lapetition.be/en-ligne/The-cultural-exception-is-non-negotiable-12826.html