Cultural Exception

The phrase « cultural exception » was developed in the context of international trade talks and agreements and was used to denote the special status of culture: the unique character and role of the sector means that it cannot be equated to other purely commercial goods or services. International recognition of the importance of culture within society and the special protection that it merits was enshrined in the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.  The special status accorded to the cultural sector arises from the recognition that freedom and diversity of cultural expression underpin democratic societies and that it is therefore justifiable and desirable that public authorities make special provision for the flourishing of culture, ensuring access for all of society and the fair remuneration of creators. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sets out the right of all people to participate in cultural life as well as the obligation of States to ensure the conservation, development and diffusion of culture and the freedom necessary for creation.

In its advocacy work, FIA upholds this key principle in a cross-cutting way, in all policy areas where it may have relevance: whether in relation to trade; to public policy on taxation and VAT; copyright; public funding of cultural production etc. It was a key consideration, for example, in the debates on the eligibility of state aid for cinema in relation to European competition rules in 2013. This section brings together FIA’s recent work in these areas.