Europe's national film funding agencies have called on the European Commission to call off a major re-examination of the cobweb of national film support schemes that is scheduled to take place next year.

In a letter addressed to culture and education commissioner Viviane Reding, the 16 state funding bodies called for the "maintenance of the current system, without a profound examination of the systems across Europe in 2004."

The letter acknowledges that the EU treaties set out a timetable for regular examination of aid and subsidy schemes and that the Commission should turn its spotlight on film from next summer.

The bodies argue that a delay would be beneficial to the ten new, mostly East European, states which join the EU next year and help them develop their local and European film support schemes. "Guaranteeing the stability of the principles defined by the Commission would be a means of accompanying [the new countries] efforts in this direction. European audiovisual policy, would find its justification through the existence of strong cinema productions in each of these countries," says the letter.

The funding bodies, which set up a common lobbying structure in March, also argue that EU member states have not had sufficient time to update their policies in a fashion that allows them to keep up with the speed of structural change in the film industry.

The Commission has yet to respond to the letter.

EFAD includes Oesterreichisches Filminstitut (Austria), Centre du Cinema et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communaute Française) (Belgium), Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds (Belgium), Danish Film Institute (Denmark), Filmfoerderungsanstalt (Germany), Greek Film Centre (Greece), Finnish Film Foundation (Finland), Centre National de la Cinematographie (France), Irish Film Board (Ireland), Ministero Per I Beni E Le Attività Culturali - Direzione Generale Per Il Cinema (Italy), Film Fund Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Nederlands Fonds v.d. Film (Netherlands), Instituto Do Cinema Audiovisual E Multimedia (Portugal), Instituto De La Cinematografia Y De Las Artes Audiovisuales (Spain),Swedish Film Institut (Sweden) and the UK Film Council (United Kingdom).