The European Investment Bank (EIB) gave a clear signal at last week's Audiovisual Roundtable in Cannes that it wants to support the European film and TV industry and build greater competitiveness in the international market.

The Roundtable had been organised following the launch of the Euros500m "Audiovisual i2i" initiative and to encourage representatives from the banking and financing sectors to become acquainted with film and TV professionals.

After the event, lobbyist Philippe Kern said that, EIB president Maystadt "gave a strong political signal that the bank is interested and wants to implement something to support the industry. He is personally committed to finding ways to support the sector and also openly admitted that the bank is still in the process of learning about the industry".

To date, "Audiovisual i2i" has supported the Finnish-based Venture Capital Fund for Creative Industries and further collaborations are planned with another two audiovisual venture capital funds in Germany and one in Spain.

Reding's announced that the European Commission has received a Euro 2m-3m budget line from the European Union to cover part of the costs of the risk premiums if European investment bankers come up with a guarantee for producers' projects..

"This is big news", Reding declared, "because the European institutions have been trying to put this idea through for the last ten years. Now, the whole constellation is possible".

Initially scheduled to last for three years, the EIB Group's commitment in the "Audiovisual i2i" initiative would allow the EIB to stump up medium to long-term financing, for large television and audiovisual production and film distribution groups to cover their infrastructure investment needs. The EIB may now make "global loans" to banks specialising in finance for small production companies. It has already started financing of dedicated audiovisual venture capital funds through European Investment Fund equity stakes.

Those attending the Cannes event hosted by EIB's Philippe Maystadt and European Commissioner Viviane Reding included Bernie Stampfer of Deutsche Bank, Premilla Hoon of Societe Generale, Philippe Kern of lobby group EFCA, Francois Ivernel of Pathe UK and, Lawrence Safir of AFMA Europe, producer Ralph Christians of Ireland's Magma Film, and Nicolas Steil of Luxembourg-based Iris Productions.