France: Threats to Stall E.U. and U.S. Trade Talks over Hollywood
Reuters reports that France has threatened to prevent free trade talks scheduled to occur in July between the European Union and the United States if the negotiations include movie and digital media. The free trade talks concern the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) an agreement that would try to remove obstacles to trade and investments and would apparently provide an annual boost to Europe’s economy by $86 billion to $150 billion and the U.S.’ economy by approximately $70 billion. The E.U. and U.S. currently enjoy the largest trade relationship in the world. Estimates suggest that $1.5 billion in goods and services is traded across the Atlantic every day.
The E.U. is expected to agree to the negotiations and their scope in a few days, yet France has indicated that it would veto the talks unless its cultural identity is preserved in the media sector. France indicates it will not agree to the talks unless its film, radio and other media products are protected from Hollywood. Current E.U. rules allow European governments to maintain their cultural diversity by setting out subsidies and quotas that are contrary to free trade. France is apparently not the only E.U. country concerned about maintaining the current cultural exception to trade discussions. Yet, other E.U. countries are okay with a compromise to allow the E.U. members to keep their subsidies and quotas for traditional media, but allow leeway for U.S. and European companies to compete in the Internet and digital areas, which includes TV on demand and music downloads.
Other countries like Britain and Germany are concerned that if the E.U. completely excludes the media sector from the trade talks, the U.S. will do so as well. In any event, it appears some type of deal will move forward over the next few months as ongoing economic concerns prevail.