Why the EU-US trade agreement must preclude cultural and audiovisual sectors

Today in the European Parliament in Strasbourg the EU-US free trade agreement (TTIP for short) has again been on the table for discussion and we were delighted to see 381 of those present voted in favour of excluding the cultural and creative industries from the potential deal. Some 191 voted against and 17 abstained.

This game-changing potential deal has been the subject of hot debate since talks began back in February, and in many ways it is a huge step forward for Europe and the US.  But it would be simplistic to assume that it would be in everyone’s best interests for the deal to be all encompassing, covering all sectors. For Europe’s creative and audiovisual sectors, the deal offers no benefits and indeed could cause damage, ultimately weakening Europe’s creative and economic economy. That’s why we feel strongly that these sectors should be excluded from the deal. And we are glad that so many of Europe’s democratically elected representatives agree with us.

You only need to turn on the radio to realise that the US already dominates the creative and cultural sectors, and this dominance is on the rise. Today, some 50% of the songs you hear on the radio are from US repertoires. And that’s just the music sector – similar patterns are true for other cultural sectors. Liberalising trade would weaken European artists’ and producers’ position even further, and would not result in more European exports to the US.

If the final agreement does encompass creative and audiovisual sectors, EU cultural players would be forced to compete with large and integrated US Internet services. This would stem the development of Europe’s digital economy and would seriously undermine Europe’s economic, cultural and social well-being.

For us, the deal should limit itself to key issues where international collaboration is genuinely helpful for both parties. For example, 11 years have passed since the World Trade Organisation ruled that the US must comply with international obligations on intellectual property, yet we are still waiting for this obligation to be fulfilled. The TTIP should make sure this duty is adhered to.

The other core issues where the TTIP could make real progress is on resale rights. Resale rights are absolutely crucial for creators of graphic, plastic and photographic arts and have no negative impact on the art market yet they are still under discussion across the pond. Including resale rights in the TTIP could be a real opportunity to make headway.

We’ll be working hard in the months to come to make sure our voice is heard in these discussions, and we’ll update you on progress as it happens on this site.

Read more:

Letter sent by GESAC (as part of the European Platform on the Potential of Cultural and Creative Industries) to the EPP Group in the European Parliament

Article by SPA General Director, Mr. José Jorge Letria on this issue