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EU To Seek Power For Limited Trade Concessions on Culture

The European Union will press EU governments to permit negotiations over local-content media rules as part of a bargaining strategy for planned trade talks with the U.S., EU officials told reporters in Brussels.

In the discussions, the European side should defend the current rules -- known as the “cultural exception” -- while leaving open the possibility of limited concessions on future regulations in order to have more leverage on other issues such as public procurement, the officials said today. France has pressed for cultural-diversity rules to be completely excluded from the talks on a free-trade pact with the U.S.

EU trade ministers will meet in Luxembourg on June 14 to discuss a mandate to begin the negotiations with the U.S., which are slated to start next month. On cultural issues, the EU should pledge to maintain all current quotas, taxes and subsidies related to audio-visual media and cultural diversity regulations, the Brussels-based European Commission said in a policy paper distributed to nations last week.

At the same time, the commission wants the ability to negotiate about what future rules might be on broadcast quotas, the Internet and other new technology platforms or other new media, the officials said. The goal is to make sure EU nations have enough room to pass new measures without closing off the possibility of concessions to the U.S., the officials said.

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