MADRID (Reuters) - Europe wants to exclude the movie, television and music industries in a proposed free-trade pact with the United States, the EU trade commissioner said on Friday.
Speaking at an event in Madrid, Karel De Gucht said European Union member states should be allowed to keep protecting these industries although he was willing to discuss exceptions when cultural products are distributed through the internet.
The move could help secure an agreement on a common EU negotiating stance at a meeting of trade ministers on June 14.
France, which has long defended a "cultural exception" in trade affairs to protect European arts from Hollywood-driven market forces, had threatened to block the start of the EU-U.S. talks and secured backing from other EU states to limit their scope.
"What has been said in public is that we're about to sell our cultural diversity to the Americans to get a deal. Nothing could be further from the truth," De Gucht said.
"We will never consider or discuss restrictions on what the member states do now to support their film, television, radio or music activities," he added.
He however said he would ask the EU countries to consider whether they would be ready to relax existing rules when the contents are distributed online.
(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Fiona Ortiz/Jeremy Gaunt)