Diversity, of the Cultural Variety

Yesterday I attended “Culture, An Added Value For Europe”, an event (excellently) organized by the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity in collaboration with the European Platform on the Potential of Cultural and Creative Industries and moderated by Carole Tongue, former MEP.

Given all the fuss that Megaupload, Sopa, Pipa and ACTA have caused (I’ll leave that for another post, watch this space) it was refreshing to hear a debate that focused on the cultural aspect of the works that European creators produce. I read so much about “content”, this “de-culturalised” word for creative works.  Behind these works, these testimonies to different cultures (at different periods in time using different languages), are creators.  Their creations are not as British author Maureen Duffy put it, “cans of beans”. The ratification of the 2005 UNESCO convention was meant to stop the EU bundling our creators’ cultural works in with the rest of its trade agreements.  However, it seems that the same people negotiate the trade agreements and the cultural cooperation agreements at exactly the same time.  Has anything changed?

There needs to be coherence in the EU’s cultural policies.  As Mr Berlinguer MEP said, “It is important that the policies of the European Union consistently respect the principals of the 2005 UNESCO Convention”.  The convention means that the cultural impact should be taken into account in all policy decisions.  This means adapted fiscal policies, and specific competition rules (think state aid for cinema).  This also means acting on more than just copyright and intellectual property but also the financing of creativity. There are currently trade agreement negotiations under way with Canada which could set the scene for the future as Canada and the EU were the champions to promote the establishment of the UNESCO convention.  Let’s hope Europe was listening to its creators yesterday and respects culture in those negotiations. CD