MEDIA Mundus aims to strengthen ties between the European and global film industries.

The European Commission’s new MEDIA Mundus programme to foster creative and business exchanges between Europe and the rest of the world was officially launched by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth in Berlin on Friday.

“Our first call of proposals announced last summer was very successful,” Vassiliou said. “We had three times as many applications as we could fund.”

MEDIA Mundus has a budget of € 15m over the next three years from 2011-2103 and focuses on training, market access, distribution and cross-border circulation and so-called cross-activities which cover more than one of the programme’s objectives.

More than € 4.6m was paid out after the first call of proposals to 36 selected projects, including Europa Cinemas International, ACE Unijapan Coproduction Lab, and Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Crossover Commissioning Lab.

Vassiliou is already occupied with preparations for a new MEDIA Programme to follow on from the current MEDIA 2007 which comes to an end in 2013.

She indicated that a future MEDIA Programme’s objectives would remain the same, “but the mechanisms will evolve: we are right now exploring different mechanisms that could be implemented for the new MEDIA Programme.”

Moreover, the Commissioner stressed that she was “committed to pushing for a well-funded programme to continue to the end of this decade and beyond.”

However, in the light of the difficult economic climate prevailing in many of the EU member states, there is growing concern in some quarters of the European film industry, that a future MEDIA Programme could be severely curtailed.