News Column

Cultural Concerns Hamper Transatlantic Partnership

June 18, 2013

Isaac Cohen --

group of eight

One of the parallel events of the Group of Eight summit of industrialized nations, held this week in Northern Ireland, was launching negotiations between the European Union and the U.S. on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Some doubted this could be accomplished in time, as was the intention expressed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, host of the G8 summit.

Many hurdles were perceived as almost impossible to overcome, such as the protection of agriculture on both sides of the Atlantic and, just the previous week, the so-called cultural exception raised by the French government.

This exception consists of removing from the negotiating table the protection of domestic audiovisual services, including digital services, such as the production and distribution of movies, television shows and radio programs.

There is concern in Europe, particularly in France, about the market penetration of cultural products from the U.S. To illustrate this concern, The Wall Street Journal presented a list of this year's 10 most popular films in France.

Six of them came from the U.S.

The 27 trade ministers of the E.U., after a marathon meeting of 13 hours in Luxembourg, decided to grant the European Commission the mandate to negotiate with the U.S.

On audiovisual services, the commission will have to present a proposal based on the negotiations, scheduled to begin next month in Washington.


Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Espaņol TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.

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