Written by Ivana Katsarova,
North America and Europe dominate the global trade in cultural goods. Together they account for 49 % of exports and 62 % of imports. However, there is a significant cultural divide between the EU and USA, which is reflected in contrasting policy approaches towards culture.
Under the 2005 Unesco Convention – not signed by the USA – the EU has a legal obligation to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, a principle also enshrined in Article 167 TFEU. Culture and the audiovisual sectors are supported in the EU through its ‘Creative Europe’ framework programme, but most importantly through the EU-28’s national budgets, with cultural spending representing between 0.2 % and 1.9 % of GDP in the 2000-2005 period.
By contrast, cultural action in the USA is not centrally guided by any federal policy, and the resources made available are relatively small for a country boasting the world’s largest economy. While the EU has a (long) tradition in supporting cultural and creative industries, in the USA, culture is generally viewed as a commodity with the American film and music industries perceived as its main ambassadors.
In 2016, the EU announced a strategy for international cultural relations, seeking, among other things, to fill gaps and remove misconceptions about the EU. In July 2017, the European Parliament welcomed the initiative. Similarly, the EU Delegation in the USA, together with the recently created Euro-American Cultural Foundation, run a number of cultural initiatives to bring the best of EU culture and help advance knowledge of the EU and the value of the transatlantic partnership.
Read this complete briefing on ‘Culture in EU-US relations‘.