Hearing on the Unesco convention
  27.Februar 2008

The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and its implementation in EU was the subject for a hearing Wednesday morning in the Committee on Culture and Education

Jan WOUTERS, professor of international law in Leuven, outlined the key principles of the Convention,that is aiming at assuring a protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, while underlining that cultural activities and goods both have an economic and cultural nature, and therefore must not be treated only as having a commercial value. He underlined that the convention is binding both for EU and Member States, and underlined that subsequently all instruments of community law should be interpreted consistently with the convention.

One of the concerns of several MEPs was the question about how to preserve cultural diversity in digitalised world, with all the challenges it presents in relation to thenew form of distribution of cultural works and the protection of the intellectual property. Verena METZE-MANGOLD, vice president of the German National Commission for UNESCO underlined that rules from the analogue world could not be translated one-to-one into the digital world. Olaf ZIMMERMANN, managing director of the German Cultural Council mentioned the mobility of artists and the problems that artists meet when they perform in other countries as an example of an area where there was need for a strong implementation of the convention.

Yvon THIEC, general delegate of Eurocinema said that the convention would only make sense if it was put to life in the legislation, and mentioned that it had already been used in an agreement with the Caribbean countries. He hoped that the convention could be more integrated inother policies such as the competition policy. He asked for the Parliament to assure every year a progress report on how the convention was being implemented, and suggested that the EU could also contribute via the budget to the Foundation for Cultural Diversity.

MEPscall for close monitoring of the implementation of the convention

MEPs underlined the fact that cultural goods can not be seen as goods like any other, and therefore have to be treated specially. The convention would lead to more exchange of cultural goods, and better mobility of artists, said Helga TRÜPEL, (Greens, DE) who also stressed the need for a proper EU policy on culture. Ruth HIERONYMI (PPE-ED, DE) underlined the importance to turn the convention into 'something real' by using it and referring to it in the legislation carried out, and mentioned the important role of the Culture Committee. She urged the Commission to come with clear guidelines on how to implement the convention concretely in the legislative work, and urged the Committee on Culture and Education to consider drafting a resolution to be voted by the entire Parliament. Henri WEBER (PSE, FR) said that it is the role of the Committee to bring life to the convention. He underlined, that digitalisation is bringing radical changes to the distribution of cultural content, and that we have only seen the beginning of this evolution. Weber also stressed the need to monitor on a regular basis, for instance once a year, the progress done in connectionwith implementation of the UNESCO convention.

Marie-Helene DESCAMPS (PPE-ED, FR) had the feeling that the hearing had moved something, and she was also favouring the idea of an annual report to monitor the progress done to implement the UNESCO convention, and assure the cultural diversity and she stressed that the question of digitalisation is something very important for the cultural diversity. Concluding the session Katerina BATZELI (PES, GR) , chairwoman of the Committee was very pleased with the outcome of the hearing, and underlined the importance of a close follow up of the implementation of the Convention and said that the Committee would consider tabling an oral question for the plenary on this subject.

EP Press Service