Position Statement of the Members of the Goethe-Institut

Berlin Reichstag
Berlin Reichstag | Photo: Bernhard Ludewig

The members of the Goethe-Institut are greatly concerned about the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), particularly to the extent that areas of life outside of business and commerce are also meant to be subjected to the principles of free global trade.

The market is not the only important form of the public sphere. Culture is a public good that deserves and needs public support and funding. The value of artistic productions does not depend on the laws of the free market. The idea of Europe has at least as much to do with cultural and educational objectives as it does with economic ones. It must continue to be possible for local and regional authorities to promote culture based on quality criteria. Free trade generally stimulates economic and social development and thus has positive effects on growth and employment. No one objects to a transatlantic trade agreement being negotiated with this goal in mind. At the same time, this must not be done at the expense of cultural diversity, which will still need to be protected and supported.

The lack of transparency in the European Commission’s negotiations on TTIP is not suitable for bolstering a shared sense of responsibility for Europe. Instead, it tends to feed suspicions that the autonomy of culture is at risk. Despite public criticism, the European Commission still has not dispelled these suspicions. The General Meeting of Members of the Goethe-Institut expects the new European Commission to make its negotiations and the current status of those negotiations transparent, to involve the member states, and to provide the public with comprehensive information. The Goethe-Institut will stay in close contact with the TTIP Advisory Group established by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The General Meeting of Members of the Goethe-Institut believes that culture, education, and media should be thoroughly excluded from the negotiating mandate for TTIP.