While the [European] union and its member states have made cultural diversity one of the cornerstones of the European edifice, working for years to promote this goal, it will mean nothing if the negotiations we’re opening with the United States compromise our individual and collective ability to implement this shared commitment. That’s why it’s essential to wholeheartedly maintain the position constantly reaffirmed by the Union, which has always excluded, in both the WTO and bilateral negotiations, audiovisual production from all trade liberalization commitments. […]
Our conviction is that, faced with huge challenges that are threatening her, Europe needs to aid and develop cultural production on her own land. To renounce the pursuit of political ambitions in favor of culture, including cinema and audiovisual, would be to renounce a part of the influence of Europe, depriving it on a powerful tool for growth and employment, and to forget this belief widely shared by our fellow countrymen culture is not a commodity like any other.
If this accurately reflects the position of these countries, this suggests that any trade agreement between the EU and the US will be minor. In addition to this exception for cultural products, the Europeans are also committed to fight the US on agriculture and are unlikely to give much ground on aerospace. Given those are top US trade priorities, it’s hard to see US doing much to address European concerns.
France does not want free Transatlantic trade; if anything the French at this point are more interested in undermining the Single European Market than in reducing trade barriers with the rest of the world. Much of southern Europe agrees. There are bureaucrats on both sides of the Atlantic who want trade negotiations because they give them something to do, and there are specific companies and industries on both sides who are pressing for liberalization in their particular sector, but the low hanging fruit—trade liberalization that makes a real economic difference that doesn’t have powerful enemies—has largely been stripped from the tree, and the pace of trade liberalization negotiations has dramatically slowed around the world.This latest news from Europe suggests that this trend is here to stay.[Television image courtesy of Shutterstock]