Securing the future of the MEDIA Programme could be just one battle of many to come betwen leading lights of theEuropean film industry and their counterparts at the European Commission.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily before meeting European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and EU culture commissioner Androulla Vassiliou on Thursday evening [17], ARP president Radu Mihaileanu said that there were equally pressing issues to tackle in the future such as audiovisual authors’ rights and remuneration in Europe.

Costa Gavras, who joined Mihaileanu, Theo Angelopoulos Cristian Mungiu and ARP delegate-general Florence Gastaud of the delegation presenting their concerns to Barroso and Vassiliou, was adamant that a future MEDIA Programme should not be brought under a common “roof” with other programmes.

In response to Vassiliou’s arguments last week that this option could “create more synergy in all of our actions in the field of culture and creativity”, “cut down on red-tape”, and thus “mean more funding will be directed where it’s needed most,” Costa Gavras observed in conversation with ScreenDaily that he had “heard the same kind of words during the debate on GATT and the cultural exception.”

The ARP delegation, which formally presented its petition of 1,800 signatures in support of MEDIA, was seeking partnership rather than confrontation with the European Commission.

Speaking before their meeting with filmmakers at the European Commission’s headquarters, the Berlaymont (sometimes nicknamed “the Berlaymonster”), Barroso and Vassiliou both reiterated their intention to strengthen the programme in future.

“Our support for film distribution, development and digitisation fills a funding gap,” Vassiliou said, “and it’s good for cultural diversity, competitiveness and jobs. Without it, audiences would see fewer European films.”

Meanwhile, ARP’s board of directors, which include Mihaileanu, Costa Gavras, Claude Lelouch, and Jean-Jacques Beineix, sent a signal of solidarity to their beleaguered UK colleagues – and the British arts scene in general – on Thursday, claiming that “culture cannot and should not be sacrificed in the name of financial austerity.”

“The lack of culture and what it leads to is so much more expensive than what might be saved,” the group of French authors, producers and directors noted, adding that “British films have always had a critical and pertinent look on our societies, and European cinema cannot afford to let it be weakened.”