Europe's film many national subsidy and support schemes for local film-making this week were given new protection following a joint initiative by the European Union's Culture and Monopolies Commissions.

Speaking at the Venice film festival on 29 Aug, culture and education commissioner Viviane Reding said that she and anti-monopolies chief Mario Monti have issued a communique that guarantees there will be no anti-trust actions taken against national production subsidy schemes. These can theoretically be challenged under EU law as they are designed to discriminate in favour of national films.

"National aid schemes have been challenged in the past. But not one has ever been banned by the EU. What Mario Monti and I have done is to ensure that governments continue to have the power to aid film-making," said Reding. "From 2004 this protection has been renewed."

Reding explained this initiative as one of three steps necessary to help European film overcome the dominance of US film among European audiences. She said that it is necessary to support production of European film, to help its cross-border distribution, and, third it is necessary to help attract European audiences.

The film education part of this is being led by the Cinedays initiative that was launched last year. For the current year edition (10-24 October) some 300 partner organisations have already signed up, according to Reding, and veteran Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo has agreed to be the scheme's "godfather".

The partners to date include 40 broadcasters which have committed to show European films during the period, networks of theatres operating under the Europa Cinemas banner and commercial screens operated by UGC in the UK and Belgium, totalling over 700 screens. A number of "videotheques" have also signed on intending to promote European films as a viable alternative to Hollywood fare.

"Nobody takes audiences by the hand and shows them European films. When they do, people say 'its cool'," said Reding. "Well Cinedays is all about showing young people that European films are cool."