The German government has issued a clear call for guarantees of diversity in the areas of culture and media in the ongoing TTIP free trade negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the US.
Germany’s Economics and Culture Ministers Sigmar Gabriel and Monika Grütters joined forces to issue a position paper demanding that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement “not contain any regulations which are likely to impair the diversity of culture and media in Germany”.
“The protection of cultural diversity and the diversity of opinion and media must also be guaranteed when faced with the asymmetry of the markets in the Internet sector,” the position paper’s authors stated.
“While the dominance of large US companies in the Internet and the audiovisual area represents a challenge for the cultural and media diversity in Europe, this is not the case in the other direction with respect to the low market share of European companies.
“The planned exceptions for audiovisual services as foreseen in the negotiation mandate must be placed on a solid footing for the future.”
Gabriel said: “We will not agree to any commitments to open up markets for audiovisual media. The protection of and the possibility to fund cultural diversity is guaranteed.”
Grütters added: “As a champion of good transatlantic relations, I expressly support the free trade agreement with the USA.
“But I also see that, particularly in the area of culture and media, there are two fundamentally different business models coming into conflict with one another.”
The German government’s clear positioning regarding culture and media in the TTIP talks comes on the eve of a major demonstration to be held in Berlin tomorrow (Oct 10).
Over 50,000 people from across Germany are expected to participate in the ¨Stop TTIP and CETA!¨ demonstration to protest against the proposed free trade agreements planned between the EU and the US and Canada, respectively.
Around 600 buses and five trains have been chartered to bring demonstrators to the German capital for the event, which has been co-organised by trades unions and organisations such as the German Arts Council, Attac, Greenpeace, Foodwatch and the World Wildlife Fund.
European broadcasters on TTIP
This week also saw European public broadcasters, collected within the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (ECCD) call for the protection of cultural diversity and the principle of technological neutrality to be included explicitly in the final text of the TTIP agreement .
EBU President, Jean-Paul Philippot remarked that ¨economic constraints and increasing consolidation in our sector is placing ever greater pressure on the unique role of public service media in Europe. We need to make crystal clear that securing a deal on services under TTIP cannot be at the expense of our cultural heritage and values.”