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Brussels, 19 December 2006

The Commission welcomes the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity

The UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression will be able enter into force in three months time, following its ratification by a sufficient number of countries yesterday. The required number of 30 ratifications was reached on 18 December when the Community, joined by twelve Member States (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) deposited their instruments of ratification at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Bulgaria also ratified yesterday in Paris at the end of this joint ratification.

Ján Figel’, European Commissioner in charge of Education & Culture, said: “These ratifications by the Community and the Member States are a clear sign of the EU’s commitment to cultural diversity, both within the EU and at international level. This is particularly rewarding, because the ratification is the last step in the long process of sometimes very tricky negotiations, for which the Commission was responsible as the voice of the Community."

The European Commission had negotiated the Convention on behalf of the European Community and the Council Presidency negotiated on behalf of the Member States. The Convention was finally adopted in October 2005, and on 18 May 2006 the Council of Ministers adopted the decision authorising the Community to ratify [1].

The United Nations required 30 ratifications for the Convention to enter into force. Since 22 countries had already ratified [2], yesterday's joint ratification by the Community and twelve Member States allows the Convention to enter into force in three months time, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.

This Convention forms the basis of a new pillar of world governance in cultural matters. Its ratification paves the way for enhanced cultural cooperation at international level, notably through exchanges of views and best practices in public policies to promote cultural diversity.

Today the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and Commissioner Ján Figel', together with Culture Minister Tanja Saarela as the representative of the Presidency of the Council, are celebrating the ratification with EU Ministers of Culture, civil society delegates, stakeholders and artists from all over Europe in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels.

See also MEMO/06/500
For more information :

[1] It is a requirement of the EC Treaty, under Article 181 and in accordance with Article 300, that such international agreements be ratified by the Community as well as the Member States.

[2] Canada, Mauritius, Mexico, Romania, Monaco, Bolivia, Djibouti, Croatia, Togo, Belarus, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Moldova, Peru, Guatemala, Senegal, Ecuador, Mali, Albania, Cameroon, Namibia and India.

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