Netflix at centre of EU row as Germany defends British TV's right to 'European' status

Netflox logo and the EU flag - Neflix at centre of Brexit row as Germany defends Britain's right to EU-film scheme
Under European rules, streamers like Netflix, and Amazon Prime must ensure their catalogues comprise at least 30 per cent of 'European works'

A leading German MEP has urged Brussels not to “shut the door” on British dramas and films as France pushes to cut them from EU television schedules after Brexit.

Paris has urged policymakers in the Belgian capital to redefine what is classed as European-made television to exclude Britain when the bloc’s audiovisual rules are revised next year.

Under European rules, streamers like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime must ensure their catalogues comprise at least 30 per cent of “European works”.

The French demand to strip British television of this status could force the platforms to remove them for their archives to comply with the diktat.

“Especially now that many British people are starting to recognise that Brexit wasn’t the best idea, we should be leaving doors open, not shutting them,” Sabine Verheyen, chairman of the European Parliament’s culture committee, said.

“While we are seeking a close cooperation with the UK in areas like education or musicians’ abilities to work across borders, it makes absolutely no sense to have a different stance on film.”

UK is biggest provider of TV series on streaming platforms

The rules are defined under a 1989 treaty drawn up by the Council of Europe, which has 46 member states and predates the EU.

The EU used the international body’s “convention on transfrontier television” to write its own audiovisual media services directive.

Shortly after Britain left the bloc, France asked the European Commission to assess the negative impact of counting British films as European.

Eurocrats later agreed that a disproportionate share of streaming platforms’ catalogues are taken up by British and British-American productions in a report published in May.

It cited independent research in 2022 and 2023 that found British series Peaky Blinders, Sex Education, Downton Abbey and The Crown were favourites amongst European viewers.

Figures published by the Council of Europe show that the UK is the biggest provider of television series on streaming platforms, with a 12 per cent share, which is more than a third of the quota for European works.

France is backed by the likes of Greece, Austria, Italy and Spain.

But their demand is seen as controversial by other countries that are covered by the Council of Europe definition, such as Turkey.