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12 February 2015
TTIP's "cultural exception" may not be enough to safeguard culture & education
After the "fresh start" proclaimed by the EU Commission, TTIP negotiations are in full swing again - with potentially dangerous repercussions for audio-visual media and educational services.
Thanks to a wave of protests from authors, moviemakers and actors but also from the Greens in the European Parliament, audio-visual services have been excluded from the negotiation mandate and from the TTIP chapter on services. This was a big success but might just not be enough. The exception of audio-visual services does not apply to all areas of the agreement. TTIP could hence still pose severe risks to cultural diversity in Europe. The sensible net of regulations which ensures a fixed prize for books, state support for certain movie productions or the protections of minors when using media, is at stake.
As the rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education I therefore suggest a general clause which excludes audio-visual services from the TTIP agreement in a broad manner and for all chapters of the treaty. In my opinion this is the only way to ensure a sustainable promotion and democratic regulation of the sector which is crucial to cultural diversity. The EU should maintain the flexibility to draft new legislation to react to the development of audio-visual services and the convergence of media and telecommunication in the digital environment. As it looks now, TTIP risks binding the hands of policy makers for the future.
Only with a broad exception we can live up to our commitments from the UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity which clearly defines audio-visual services as being of an economic as well as a cultural nature. The American negotiators are said to be pushing hard for the future liberalisation of the sector: an aim that the EU Commission should disallow for the sake of cultural diversity.
It is my second key objective that European states retain the possibility to promote and regulate the European education sector. I therefore suggest that all providers of educational services, which receive support from the state in any form, shall be excluded from the liberalisation measures of TTIP. Europe can be glad to have a large variety of educational service providers, which do contribute to our societies in a number of ways. We should hence ensure that they can continue to receive state support and that states can, at the same time, create binding rules to ensure the quality of teaching for both European and non-European providers.
Here you can find my proposal for the opinion in the Committee of Culture and Education. The opinion will be presented on the 26th of February and will be put to a vote on the 16th of April.
Read: DRAFT OPINION of the Committee on Culture and Education for the Committee on International Trade on recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Rapporteur: Helga Trüpel