CCA Bulletin 03/12  Update on Canada/EU negotiations: the culture angle
February 21, 2012 Canadian Conference for the Arts WEBSITE

JUST THE FACTS: Some encouraging news concerning the status of culture in the on-going trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union! The CCA learned during the briefing session held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) that:
• It is more than likely that, with the support of some European countries, Canada will be able to include a direct reference to the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity at the top of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as well as extended wording to the effect that signatory countries reserve the right to subsidize and protect cultural products whichever way they think appropriate, culture not being like other goods or products covered by the agreement;

• EU countries follow closely Canada’s efforts to modernize its Copyright Act and express serious concerns about Bill C-11 with regards to the numerous exemptions it proposes, particularly concerning education, and the responsibility of internet service providers (ISPs) in fighting piracy; and,

• While Europeans continue to press for Canada to relax its policies concerning foreign investments in telecommunications, which Canada is resisting, their interest in doing the same for book retailing appears to be waning.

TELL ME MORE: CETA negotiations have been going on for three years now and it is hoped that they will be wrapped up by late summer or early fall. It was confirmed during the DFAIT briefing that culture has not been discussed seriously yet and will likely be part of the stickier elements left after the next round of face-to-face meetings in March. Canada has been at the vanguard of the promotion of the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity and was the first country to sign it in November 2005. It is therefore good news to hear that while the EU still questions the extent of the cultural exemption put forward by the Canadian team (particularly as it would apply to intellectual property), the federal government will stick to its guns with the support of Quebec and France. The CCA will keep following this file closely and report to you any new developments.

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