The European Commission has proposed in its Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 to allocate €1.6bn for culture and the audiovisual industry.

The annual budgets for a new “umbrella” programme entitled Creative Europe would begin at €182m in 2014 and increase step-by-step to €197m (2015), €212m (2016), €227m (2017), €242m (2018), €257m (2019), and finally €273m (2020).

In its Communication on the MFF to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, the Commission explained that Creative Europe “will bring together the current Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus programmes in order to focus support on the achievement of the Europe 2020 goals and to help unlock the job creation potential of the cultural and creative sectors.”

“The programme will complement other EU programmes by specifically targeting the needs of the cultural and creative sectors aiming to operate beyond national borders, and with a strong link to the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity,” the Commission document stated. “The specificities of each sector will be catered for, including through a dedicated budgetary allocation, and a third strand will provide horizontal support to the creative and cultural industries through the use of innovative financial instruments.”

An innovative financial instrument, which EC Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou had mentioned in an exchange of views with the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee, would be run by the European Investment Bank (EIB) group, to provide debt and equity finance for cultural and creative industries (CCI).

“This will address one of the key barriers to the development of cultural and creative content - access to finance - and would reach cultural and creative industries that are not supported through other EU programmes,” the Communication said.

In the run-up to EC’s proposals for the MFF, there had been calls from within the European film industry from such groups as the Brussels-based Federation of Audiovisual Directors (FERA) for the European Commission to boost the MEDIA Programme’s budget from the current €755m to €1.2bn over the next seven-year period.

Although additional funding is now being proposed for the culture and media sectors bringing the total expenditure up to €1.6bn from 2014-2020, a hike to €1.2bn specifically for MEDIA seems unlikely given that Vassiliou will be needing to access part of this increased budget for the innovative financial instrument to operated by the EIB.

In its Communication, the Commission did not give any breakdown of the dedicated budgets being proposed under the Creative Europe umbrella for the Culture and MEDIA programmes or the financial instrument.

At the same time, it was revealed that the Creative Europe programme will be managed centrally through the Education Audiovisual and Communication Executive Agency (EACEA), as is currently the case for both Culture and MEDIA, while a small number of actions such as the European Capitals of Culture and EU cultural prizes will be managed directly by the Commission.

Speaking in general about the European Union’s proposed budget of € trillion for 2014-2020, EC president Jose Manuel Barroso [pictured] declared: “I believe we are presenting ambitious but responsible proposals. We cut in some areas and increase in priority areas. We have resisted the temptation to make small adjustments that would result in the same kind of budget. Most of all, we aim to give value for money for Europe’s citizens.”

The Members States and the European Parliament will now spend the next 12 months discussing and amending the EC’s budget proposals. The deadline for approval of the final version is the end of 2012.