Role of international projects discussed going forward.

The European Commission intends to merge MEDIA Mundus with the next MEDIA Programme from 2014, according to Aviva Silver, head of the MEDIA unit in Brussels.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily at an event at the weekend in Locarno celebrating MEDIA’s 20th anniversary, she stressed that this “doesn’t mean everything in MEDIA will be open to international.”

“There will be specific actions that are MEDIA Mundus-inspired which will be in the new MEDIA programme starting in 2014, but we are hoping that there will be some margin to do at least some of the activities we had foreseen for the original MEDIA Mundus, but where there wasn‘t enough funding at the time.”

“One of the questions, of course, which is not answered at the moment, is: do we try and encourage international co-productions by supplementing existing international co-production funds based in Europe or should we try and do something else because what we do under development [in MEDIA] has its limits in an international context.”

The MEDIA Mundus programme had been launched by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth during this year’s Berlinale. Equipped with a budget of €15m for 2011-2013, this programme aims to foster creative and business exchanges between Europe and the rest of the world in the areas of training, market access, distribution, cross-border circulation and so-called cross activities.

Silver revealed that the Commission is currently preparing its draft proposal for the Creative Europe umbrella which would include the future MEDIA Programme, the Culture Programme and a new financial instrument providing debt and equity finance for cultural and creative industries.

She explained that a budget breakdown has not yet been specified for Creative Europe which was allocated €1.6bn by the European Commission in its proposed Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 at the end of June.

“We have to submit our proposal to the impact assessment board on Sept 7 and it is only once they have cleared our impact assessment [at the board’s meeting on October 5] that we will be able to launch our proposal internally in the Commission in what is called an inter-service consultation,“ Silver continued. “At the moment, the adoption date is much earlier than originally envisaged — on Nov 23 — which gives us a full two years to negotiate the proposals [for Creative Europe] with the [European] Council and Parliament.”

She added that it is being considered “to look in more general terms at membership of a future MEDIA Programme. It is clear that we will have separate terms of entry for MEDIA as opposed to other parts of Creative Europe because we are working in the more specific context of WTO [World Trade Organisation] and community acquis which is not the case with the other parts of Creative Europe.“

Moreover, changes in Community policy since 2007 regarding the European Neighbourhood Policy and a wider Europe are leading to a rethink in the structures for extended membership of MEDIA.

“We talk a lot about the effects of globalisation and, as far as independent cinema is concerned, I think the bigger and more united Europe is in terms of easy circulation and networking, the stronger we will be outside of Europe,“ Silver said. “It is a well-known economic principle that your strength on international markets depends on your strength to start off with.”

„Even a country like France which produced 261 films last year is still small on the international stage, but in Europe we produced 1,200 films. So, if we can harness that together and speak with one voice - at least on some issues -, I hope we will have more weight on the international stage.“

She suggested that it would be „important“ for a new MEDIA Programme to take the European Neighbourhood Policy and the accession and candidate countries into account when drawing up it membership policy. „The idea is that we shouldn’t just look at who should be in the MEDIA Programme, but also consider the links with other programmes - if they are going to continue – such as EUROMED and ACP Films. MEDIA needs to be complementary to all of these European Union initiatives.“

The MEDIA Programme event in Locarno was attended by Festival President Marco Solari, Jean-Frederic Jauslin, head of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture (BAK), Ivo Kummer, the new head of BAK’s film department, and Corinna Marschall, the newly appointed managing director of Media Desk Suisse. (ends)