European Review logo

ISSUE 63 page 8

Click for country articles

Choose a country to take your mouse,clicking on most will show an article on that country

Sites of interest


Web sites mentioned on this page are available at:

 Online petition in favour of protecting Europe’s audio-visual sector
 The new hazard pictogram quiz
 Estonian Internet Foundation
France targets US companies, government to maintain ‘cultural exception’

THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF FRANCE IS OFTEN THOUGHT to be a ‘cultural exception’ to the general drift towards free markets and de-regulation, even within the EU, but more properly the term is applied to audio-visual goods and services which the French government likes to protect on the basis of their cultural importance. Now this battle is continuing on two fronts: American internet giants such as Apple and Google are to provide funding for French film, music and newspapers while the US government is to be warned off the sector in approaching negotiations over a free trade agreement between the EU and the United States.
In a dispute with French publishers which had echoes of a similar case in Belgium (see issue 55) Google have agreed to pay €60 million into a fund to help French media organisations improve their internet operations in return for indexing and linking to their newpapser articles. No doubt encouraged by this breakthrough the government is planning to raise another €86 million through a 1% levy on the sale of smartphones and tablet computers. Currently the manufacturers of these devices escape the tax paid by broadcasters to suppport cultural projects. ‘Today we have extremely sophisticated technological equipment that is extremely expensive to buy, but which contributes nothing to the financing of the works that circulate on that same equipment’ commented Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti.
The French position in negotiations on the proposed free trade agreement is to demand that the cultural sector be excluded from talks. France fears that subsidies for artistic productions, and measures such as quotas restricting the amount of non-French music played on the radio, will be banned in the deal. The film industry is worried that the power of Hollywood will mean ‘European films vanishing from cinema screens in Europe and around the world’ according to famous director Wim Wenders.  His online petition in favour of the cultural exception has  also been signed by Mike Leigh from the U.K. and the Belgian directors the Dardenne brothers. The European Parliament has passed a resolution to support this but the EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, who will actually conduct negotiations, is insisting that no sector will be excluded as ‘Nothing in the free trade agreement with the United States will harm ... Europe's cultural diversity’.

Estonia tries to drum up business for domain name

ESTONIA, AS ONE OF THE MOST WIRED societies in the EU, is where citizens are used to smartcards that can be used for everything from paying taxes to buying transport tickets and even voting. The home of Skype is a hub of high-tech start-up companies, free wi-fi is available throughout the capital, Tallinn, and the EU’s target of 50% broadband coverage at a speed of 100 megabits per second by 2020 will be doubly met by 2015 in Estonia when the whole population is expected to be enjoying such rapidity. However the country’s .ee domain name has been decidedly unpopular with web developers compared to other international versions such as .eu. The reasons are thought to be the cost, length of contract and the withdrawal of the free domain. Now a marketing campaign by the Estonian Internet Foundation aims to attract new web sites together with a price cut from €17 to €15, shorter contracts and the offer of one-letter web names such as Protection of the infrastructure and system software development are also scheduled for improvement.

Learn new hazard symbols with an online quiz
 PART OF THE EU REACH LAWS, WHICH WILL progressively gather information on chemicals in order to register them and regulate their use, concerns the classification, labelling and packaging of substances. One of the clearest ways to indicate a hazard is by picture symbols and these are to change under the new regulations. Renamed pictograms they will now be red and white instead of orange and black in order to harmonise with the international system. The European Chemicals Agency has conducted research that showed that many people do not recognise the warning symbols and so it has launched a quiz on its web site.


The old symbol and the new pictogram
for a very toxic substance


Top of page




LiechtensteinMoldovaMacedoniaAlbaniaBulgariaRomaniaLithuaniaLuxembourgLatviaSlovakiaUkraineHungaryMaltaEstoniaFinlandNetherlandsDenmarkFranceAustriaCzech RepublicGreeceItalyPolandGermanyBelgiumSpainPortugalSwedenIrelandSloveniaNorwayTurkeyRussiaIcelandSwitzerlandCroatiaCyprus