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GATS :: GATS 2000

Consultation on GATS 2000

Past multilateral negotiations concerning the liberalisation of services in particular have demonstrated the sensitivity of certain issues when addressed with trading partners in international bodies. Audiovisual services fall within this description, and traditionally give rise to long and difficult debates with our trading partners, notably due to the inherent cultural dimension of such services. Evolutions in the audiovisual sector itself as well as the general trends of liberalisation of services in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) raise new questions on what has to be secured in this multilateral trade body to allow for the pursuit and development of policies and measures in the field of audiovisual and more generally, in cultural sectors, both at national and European levels. The multilateral agenda together with the specific sensitivity of this sector have led DG Education & Culture of the European Commission to launch a consultation focused on audiovisual and cultural services in the new Round at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and in particular within the framework of the GATS Agreement on Services.

A first consultation was held in 1999 on audiovisual services. Another consultation was launched in 2000 to cover cultural services and to deepen the consultation for two sub-sectors of audiovisual services, namely music and recreational software. The purpose is to provide the Commission with a more detailed input on these sectors, in view of the preparation of the negotiation positions. As a follow-up to this consultation, a hearing on audiovisual services and GATS, focusing on those two sub-sectors as well as on recent developments regarding the international debate on cultural diversity, took place on 24 January 2002 in Brussels.

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