Androulla Vassiliou, EC Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, has sought to allay European producers’ concerns about the financial independence of a future MEDIA Programme.

She was reacting to a communiqué by the French trade association L’ARP that, despite recent statements from Barroso and her, they (L’ARP) would “nevertheless remain vigilant as long as no statement as to the independence of the program has been clearly provided.”

“I note their concerns that MEDIA might be merged within another programme,” Vassiliou said. “This will not be the case. What we are studying at the moment is whether to put the MEDIA Programme together, with other programmes, under a common “roof” [which might be called Creative Europe] in order to create more synergy in all our actions in the field of culture and creativity.”

“But the individual programmes themselves will totally preserve their specificities. I don’t see this as a problem,” she declared. “On the contrary, if we can cut down on red-tape for instance, that will mean more funding will be directed where it’s needed most – for development, for distribution, for training and innovation.”

She pointed to the example of the EU’s ERASMUS programme which is currently part of a bigger Lifelong Learning Programme. “This has not affected its brand identity or effectiveness in the least. Indeed, Erasmus goes from strength to strength. If we do decide to bring MEDIA into a broader cultural framework, I’m sure it will also continue to go from strength to strength in the same way.”

Vassiliou said that she would be “unstinting” in her efforts “to maintain adequate resources for the MEDIA programme to run efficiently, notwithstanding the difficult economic situation with which we are faced in Europe.”

“We may look at certain changes to the programme – as has always been the case – to ensure that it keeps pace with challenges like digitisation and technological change. I also want to ensure that we spend any euro in this programme with maximum efficiency. I want also to make it more user friendly. These are the best ways to ensure the added value of the programme in future.”

Asked about her reaction to the petition recently sent to her with the signatures of such filmmakers as Pedro Almodovar, Wim Wenders, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke, she said that she was “actually pleased to see so many great figures from the industry saying how important the MEDIA Programme is and what it means to them personally.”

“These are names that embody the creativity, talent, diversity and success of European film-making – right across the world.”

Meanwhile, this morning saw the participants of the Sofia Meetings co-production event being called on by European Film Academy (EFA) director Marion Döring to add their names to the petition by EFA members which has been sent this week to EC President Jose Manuel Barroso in support of the MEDIA Programme.

Döring told a packed auditorium that it was also imperative that the European film professionals lobby their countries’ finance ministers about the importance of supporting such a programme as MEDIA within the European Union’s future activities.

She told ScreenDaily in Sofia that some 500 EFA members had already signed the petition which called on the European Commission to secure the future of the MEDIA Programme.

“An abrogation or even cuts to the MEDIA Programme’s budget would destroy twenty successful years of developing an audiovisual industry on a European level and would have an immediate negative impact on a
sector that belongs to the fastest growing job-creating industries in Europe,” the EFA declaration reads.