Gianni Massaro has resigned as president of European Council film fund Eurimages, blaming the "excessive power of the European Council," bad management, and feuds between the Council and the Eurimages Committee.

Massaro explained the reasons for his departure at a press conference in Rome, commenting: "I fear that Eurimages cannot go very far under the existing conditions. Funds given by representative states will soon be insufficient. The European Council puts at Eurimages's disposal personnel and buildings but does not contribute to the Fund itself. And yet it is regularly increasing the number of members - from small countries such as Malta and Macedonia who have equal access to the funds but only contribute a very small amount of money."

"Despite past and present reforms of Eurimages, the General Secretary of the European Council has still opted to privilege bureaucracy. And the most important decisions at Eurimages, which should be discussed in front of the Committee that represents the 27 member states of Eurimages, are being preliminary filtered by Eurimages's executive secretary instead," Massaro added.

Under existing rules, Eurimages Executive Secretariat pre-selects projects, manages fund allocation and answers directly to the general secretary of the European Council, while Eurimages's Committee makes the final decision on which films will receive funding.

Massaro said the final factor that pushed him to resign was the European Council's decision to re-elect Eurimages's executive secretary, Renate Roginas, without consulting at any stage with the Fund's Committee - who were, it is understood, against her reappointment.

Massaro also denounced fund management. "Euros2m out of the funds given by Eurimages's 27 member states are given directly to the European Council - as reimbursement for costs such as transport, which simply do not exist."

Eurimages was founded by the European council in 1988 to support co-production and the distribution of feature films. It currently hands out a total of Euros19m to successful applicants each year. Since 1988, it has alwarded a total of Euros245m to 883 European co-productions.

Massaro, who also heads Italy's national audiovisual body Anica was first elected president of Eurimages in 1998. He was unanimously re-elected in December 2000 for a further two years.

Meanwhile, he underlined that Eurimages's work will proceed as normal and will not be affected by his departure, as a new president was already due to be elected in December.

It is likely, says Massaro, that this will be Jacques Toubon, France's former Culture Minister.

In the meantime, Italy, which together with France is one of the major contributors to the Fund, is lobbying for Mario Liggeri to be one of two vice-presidents. Liggeri is currently Italy's representative on the Committee.

Germany and Spain are also lobbying for one of the vice-president positions to go to their country.