The European Commission is set to extend the current rules for state aid for film support schemes until 2012.

The move is designed to allow more breathing space while it considers the long-term future of the rules. The announcement came jointly from European Commissioners Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes, who are responsible for Information Society and Media and Competition, respectively. The other director generals of the EC are now expected to approve the move.

The decision to shelve any immediate changes was influenced by the long-awaited results of a study on the economic and cultural impact of territorial conditions in film support schemes.

The study findings are not conclusive on the economic or cultural impact in this area, highlighting the need for further reflection the Commission said.

A three-year extension also allows the Commission to consider new trends in the sector not covered by the Cinema Communication. These include support for digital technology and film distribution as well as competition between some Member States for inward investment from large-scale, mainly US, production companies.

While the Commission has yet to examine the detailed results of the study, it is keen to avoid uncertainty within the industry. In a joint statement, Commissioners Reding and Kroes said: 'We are aware that many in the European film sector are keen to know what the Commission has in mind for the future of the State aid rules in the Cinema Communication. This is why we have decided to make this joint statement.'

The statement continued: 'We firmly believe that whatever State aid there is for film should have the cultural aim of ensuring that Europe's national and regional cultures and creative potential are expressed in the audiovisual media of film and television. At the same time, though, it should also aim to lead to a sustainable European film sector. In our view, attempting to complete this reflection between now and the expiry of the current Communication on 31 December 2009 would probably be difficult. More time is needed to allow interested parties to be fully involved.'

The study on the economic and cultural impact of territorial conditions in film support schemes is available here.