Tax law

IRIS Plus 2005-5: Application of EC Competition Policy regarding Agreements and State Aid in the Audiovisual Field

Author: Laurence Mayer-Robitaille, Associate Expert, UNESCO - Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue, Paris

Published: 01/11/2005

On 20 October 2005 the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted. Recital 18 expresses the conviction that "cultural activities, goods and services have both an economic and a cultural nature, because they convey identities, values and meanings, and must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value".

The adoption of the UNESCO Convention underlines the desire to support cultural values, yet EC competition rules remain an important yard stick for how much support seems acceptable in a free market.

The purpose of this IRIS plus article is to analyse the legal status of agreements and State aid concerning the audiovisual sector in Community law in accordance with the principle of free competition. The author, Laurence Mayer-Robitaille, comes to the conclusion that these agreements and State aid are treated with ambivalence – although they are subject to the principle of free competition, they receive special treatment under certain provisions of the Treaty establishing the European Community.

This IRIS plus links up to the earlier IRIS plus 2003-6 on "European Public Film Support within the WTO Framework" in that both articles examine the double nature of audiovisual goods and services and its impact on supranational regulation.