On 20 May 2013, the Minister for Culture and Communication of the French Republic, Aurélie Filippetti held an international conference on the theme: “Strengthening cultural exception in the Europe of tomorrow”.
Introduced by the Minister Aurélie Filippetti and the European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, the conference emphasised the irremediable consequences of undermining cultural exception in Europe and called for the complete exclusion of audio-visual services from the negotiation mandate of the European Commission in the context of its free trade discussions with the United States of America.
The European participants in the debate called not only for the protection but also for the strengthening and extension of mechanisms in support of cultural diversity, particularly in the new digital services and networks. Liberalising audio-visual services would deprive the States and the European Union of any powers to support their film industry in future and would deal a major blow to the diversity of European cinema.
For the last 20 years, the audio-visual sector has constantly been excluded from European Union trade negotiations, and this must be maintained. Failing this, the capacity to develop support mechanisms will be threatened. Recalling the support of the Ministers of Culture from all 15 Member States in favour of excluding audio-visual and cultural services from the negotiation mandate given to the Commission, the Minister of Culture and Communication called on all parties to mobilise before the cote of the Council of European Trade Ministers on 14th June.
Chris Dodd, President of the MPAA, stated that it was both legitimate and desirable for States to follow the French model and develop ambitious public policies for the cinema and audio-visual services, which would then be of benefit to the entire sector.
Over 5,000 filmmakers and artists have joined the European mobilisation, signing the petition with Costa Gavras delivered to the European Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou.
The conference was marked by the arrival on stage of a delegation of filmmakers including Costa Gavras, Amos Gitai, Michel Hazanavicius, Jacques Fansten, Michel Ferry, Jeanne Labrune, Alvaro Longoria, Jaime Rosales, Jean-Paul Salomé and Joachim Trier. Harvey Weinstein, also attending, expressed his support for the initiative – the only means of preserving the diversity at the heart of cinema.
The filmmakers denounced the intention of the European Commission to play with European culture and creation in a poker game of trade, which Europe would surely lose. Despite the weakening of the European ideal, European culture is a notion that must be strengthened, not sacrificed.
In the presence of a large number of political figures and cinema industry professionals, the following took part in the debate chaired by Roberto Olla, director general of Eurimages: Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Cultureand Communication;Nicole Bricq, Minister of Foreign Trade (by videolink),Chris Dodd, CEO Motion Picture Association of America - MPAA, Andréa Zlatar, Croatian Minister of Culture, Eric Garandeau, President of the CNC, Costa Gavras, filmmaker, Alvaro Longoria, producer, Doris Pack, President of the Culture Committee of the European Parliament, Jobst Plog, President of Eurimages and Vice-President of ARTE, Pascal Rogard, President of the French coalition for cultural diversity, Jaime Rosales, director, Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner, Henri Weber, Member of the INTA committee at the European Parliament, Danielle Auroi, President of the European Affairs Committee at the French Assemblée Nationale.
The full debate, which was broadcast live online, will soon be available for viewing on the CNC website.