This document was requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education. The briefing note provides an analysis of how the existent EU internal policies reflect the spirit and the letter of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity. The note suggests further ideas on how the EU may calibrate current practices and explores in a forward-looking manner the possibilities for the Convention’s implementation in future internal policies, understood both as hard and soft EU legal instruments.
“In most of the debates subsequent to the Convention’s adoption and in the body of literature that evolved in parallel, little attention has been paid so far on the internal dimension of the UNESCO Convention, i.e. on the actions that the State Parties need to undertake in order to fulfil their obligations under the Convention and contribute to the attainment of the goal of protecting and promoting cultural diversity. The discussion has been predominantly focused on the external dimension of the Convention’s impact and above all on its capability to act as a counterbalance to the international trade regime governed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
This focus is perfectly understandable as the main driving force in political context behind the adoption of the Convention has been to react to the reality of strong and enforceable international trade rules that treat cultural goods and services as any other tradable items and arguably do not provide sufficient policy space for national regulators to adopt measures in the cultural domain.”
“Irrespective of the diverse stances taken on the UNESCO Convention’s bearing in the external context, since the wording of the Convention is open-ended, it is clear to all observers that its impact will largely depend on how it is implemented. The discussion on the domestic implementation of the Convention is only emerging, both in the political and in the academic discourses. The implementation model of the EU and its Member States could thus set an important example for the international community and for the other State Parties that ratified the Convention, as the European Community (EC) and the EU Member States, acting individually, played a critical role in the approval of the Convention, and in the longer process of promoting cultural concerns on the international scene that ultimately led to the UNESCO Convention.”