Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

MEPs divided on culture clause in US trade talks

  • Excluding areas, such as culture, from trade talks even before they begin is unhelpful, believe some MEPs (Photo: Didier Misson)

MEPs are divided over whether the European culture sector should be excluded from talks on an EU-US trade agreement, following a vote on Thursday (25 April).

Deputies on the Parliament's International Trade committee backed a report by Portuguese centre-left deputy Vital Moreira by 23 votes to 5 calling for the EU's priorities to include the opening up of the public procurement and financial services sectors.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

However, in a sign that MEPs are divided on the scope of trade talks, an amendment calling for cultural and audiovisual services to be excluded from talks was narrowly carried by 14 votes to 11.

Following the vote, Moreira, who is also the committee's chairman, commented that excluding sectors before talks had even begun was "not helpful."

"The best way to start negotiations is not to set out exceptions that would limit room for negotiations," he added. He was optimistic that the amendment would be reversed when MEPs take their final vote on the report during the May Strasbourg session.

Moreira claimed that a transatlantic trade deal had "huge potential for growth and jobs" adding that the European commission's negotiating team should focus on increasing market access of goods and services as well as foreign investment in the US economy.

Research prepared for the commission by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), a London-based think tank, has indicated that a US trade deal could increase EU economic output by up to €119 billion a year, equivalent to around 1 percent of GDP.

But there are already concerns that member states want to limit the scope of talks. Last week the French government insisted that the EU exclude defence and culture from trade talks. France's trade minister Nicole Bricq stated that Paris would veto any deal which did not respect these red lines.

Excluding entire sectors would limit the economic benefits of a trade deal, according to the CEPR, which claims that failure to go beyond agreement on conventional tariff barriers would limit economic gains to around €23.7 billion.

The EU treaties already require its institutions to protect 'cultural diversity' across the bloc, with similar safeguards for public services and data protection.

Meanwhile, in a nod to the collapse of the controversial anti-counterfeit treaty Acta, Moreira called on the commission to "learn lessons".

MEPs rejected Acta in May 2012, accusing trade commissioner Karel de Gucht of negotiating in secret without parliamentary scrutiny or access to documents.

Moreira said that the EU executive had "given assurances" that the committee would be briefed both before and after each round of negotiations, expected to take between one and two years.

Although parliament will not be involved in the negotiations, its support will be required for any agreement to enter into force.

Ministers are expected to then agree on a negotiating mandate for the EU executive in June.

France threatens US trade veto over culture

The French government has dismissed as "naive" suggestions that a transatlantic trade deal with the US could substantially benefit the EU economy and take it out of crisis.

Agenda

Kerry in Brussels this WEEK

US Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Brussels at the beginning of the week while the end of the week will see EU-ambivalent Icelanders go to the polls.

Analysis

Liberty and the EU-US trade talks

The conflict over 'l’exception culturelle' is illustrative of a more fundamental dividing line in trade politics within the European Union.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary, Poland block EU conclusions on rule of law
  2. France: wide EU backing for enlargement change
  3. EU Council calls for policy action to protect marine life
  4. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
  5. Suspected 'middleman' in Caruana Galizia case arrested
  6. European populists more favourable to Russia
  7. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  8. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us