The next generation of the European Union’s MEDIA Programme from 2014-2020 could see a 20% hike in its budget to € 900m from € 755m for MEDIA 2007.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily ahead of the 21st Dijon Film Forum (Oct 20-22), Philippe Brunet, chef de cabinet of Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou, explained that this proposed budget increase by the European Commission (EC) would be subject to approval by the European Parliament and the European Council on Nov 23.

A total budget of €1.6bn had been proposed by the EC last July as part of its Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) budget plan for 2014-2020 for its new framework programme Creative Europe encompassing the current Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus schemes.

“It will actually be a bit more because in the proposal we will be taking the current value of the Euro and that of 2010 into account and eventually we will have €1.8 bn,” Brunet said. “From that, 50% will go to MEDIA which will represent roughly a 20% increase.”

“In these times of budgetary constraints and the fact that the amount of the MFF has been capped at 1.05% of the EU GDP, it’s quite an achievement to have 20% more for MEDIA,“ Brunet declared, adding that “for the first time, apart from the cultural benefits per se in the [MEDIA] Programme, we have stressed the industrial weight of the sector and the fact that the cultural and creative industries including cinema make up 4.6% of the GDP.”

In addition to the increased MEDIA budget, European audiovisual professionals can also look forward to benefitting from an innovative financial instrument – a third pillar in the Creative Europe programme – which would work with the European Investment Bank group to provide debt and equity finance for cultural and creative industries.

A budget of €180m is being proposed for this guarantee fund which, “depending on the sector, could have a leverage effect of 10-12 times,” Brunet said, pointing out that the cinema sector was likely to be main beneficiary of this new instrument.

(In comparison, European film producers currently have access to the MEDIA Production Guarantee Fund, launched at the beginning of this year which has a budget of €8m until 2013.)

Meanwhile, MEDIA unit chief Aviva Silver told ScreenDaily that the Commission is looking at new business models for the film industry of the future. In this context, the European Parliament has had the first reading of a preparatory action with a budget of €2m to explore new forms of distribution. “It would be an important opportunity for us next year in the programme to try out some of these models without necessarily detracting from the money we have under MEDIA,” Silver said.

Organised by the French society of writers, directors and producers ARP, this year’s edition of the Dijon Film Forum  addressed such issues as the circulation and presence of European cinema on cinema screens, in TV schedules and VOD services, economic trabsparency between producers and distributors, and the need for new economic models for culture.

The list of 600 participants included directors Costa-Gavras, Claude Lelouch, Thomas Langmann, Christophe Barratier, Tonie Marshall, Michel Hazanavicius, Marion Hänsel, and such industry figures as La Fémis president Raoul Peck, Jean Labadie (Le Pacte), Unifrance director Régine Hatchondo, Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre (Mact Productions), Sylvie Forbin (Vivendi) and Emilie Georges (Memento Films).

This year saw the Film Forum opening up to European neighbours by having UK exhibitor Clare Binns of City Screen and Gutek Films head of acquisitions/artistic director Jakub Duszynski as speakers on the panel about European distribution.

The ARP also showed that it is keen to look past France’s borders by inviting several European colleagues – known collectively during the Forum as “the European delegation” - to attend the Film Forum after they had previously been among the 20 filmmakers who met with Commissioner Vassiliou during the last Cannes Film Festival to air their concerns about the future of the MEDIA Programme and European cinema in general.

They included Hanna Sköld (Sweden), who was a joint winner of MEDIA’s European Talent Prize in Cannes this year, Jochem de Vries (Netherlands), Arunas Matelis (Lithuania) , Manuel Rios San Martin (Spain), Lea Binzer (Greece) Petr Vaclav (Czech Republic) and Adela Peeva (Bulgaria).

In a breakfast meeting during the Film Forum, ARP’s President Jean-Paul Salomé proposed to the visiting filmmakers that an informal network might be established to exchange information about the situation in their respective countries and to serve as a lobbying force vis-a-vis European audiovisual policy.