Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Audiovisual Policy, has announced that the EU's European Investment Bank (EIB) will unveil details of a venture capital fund for film and TV production within the next two weeks.
The fund, which was anticipated (ScreenDaily, October 6), will be used to leverage financing from private banks throughout Europe. Reding, who was speaking at this year's Forum of European Cinema in Strasbourg, stressed that it is a risk capital and not a subsidy fund. It will mark the first time that the EIB has ploughed money into film.
Reding also urged film industry personnel to step up the lobbying of their governments to get the proposed MEDIA Plus budget passed by the Council of Culture Ministers in Brussels on November 23.
The EC has proposed a budget of Euros400m, rather than the Euros550m initially suggested by the European Parliament, but even this lower proposal was opposed by the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.
"I was naive to think that [400m] would be accepted by all countries," Reding said, adding "people pull out all stops for agriculture, but for culture they are not prepared to pull out any stop."
The next eight days will see intense lobbying to bring on board the three final member states whose votes are needed to pass the MEDIA Plus budget.
In addition, Reding said she is planning a consultative study for spring 2001 on legal aspects of audiovisual production, which would address such issues as the definition of a European work and the European Commission's thinking on national aid programmes.