The performance of European films outside their home markets remains one of the thorniest issues for the EU's policy-makers. Last year's box-office recovery in many European territories was largely built on the success of local films in local markets and a number of Hollywood blockbusters. There were high-profile exceptions: Pedro Almodovar's Volver, for example, took more than $15m in France and $8.5m in Italy, while Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley took more than $6m in France.

But EU films generally have not travelled well, despite a good deal of European public subsidy - over the last seven years more than $650m was injected through the European Union's Media Plus and Media Training programmes.

At Berlin, the EU announced a new round of investment under Media 2007: almost $1bn over the next seven years. Among the explicit aims of this finance will be to raise the box-office market share of European features outside their home territories from 10% to 20%.

The EU sees box-office growth as just part of a package of changes needed to support a sustainable European industry amid changing global trends. "Embracing digitisation by training our professionals, modernising our cinemas and developing new distribution channels are keys to success," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

Most investment is allocated to changes in distribution, with almost 65% of the total budget helping the broader circulation of European works. It is an important change of emphasis towards distribution, which has sometimes taken a secondary role to production.

Over the last 10 years, production rates have increased every year, rising from around 600 films produced in the EU in 1995 to nearly 800 in 2005.

That rise in production has not been matched by admissions, which have fluctuated strongly over the last five years. There has been little to suggest that increased production has helped European films travel beyond their borders.

The new programme also recognises the importance of promotion through market access, festivals and events. "By making the distribution of European works a clear priority in the new programme, Media is seeking to improve the market share of European films shown in member states other than the one in which they were produced," said an EU spokesman.

As the Media 2007 programme develops, the most significant element may turn out to be the emphasis on digital changes. Reding called on EU film-makers to embrace the new technology as a means of increasing reach and promoting European culture.

New platforms may potentially soak up production that fails to find theatrical markets. Increasing talk of over-production in Europe becomes less of an issue where new avenues for distribution open up.

There is a strong suggestion that Media 2007 wants to see a return on investment in seeing films travel. Officials naturally talk in bullish terms: "Thanks to the Media programmes, European cinema is really buoyant," said Reding. "I'm proud that our European films are now enjoying such commercial and critical success."

But as Joni Sighvatsson, owner of Swedish company Scanbox, pointed out at the European Film Finance Summit in Berlin, when films do not even travel between Scandinavian countries, with all their shared business and cultural links, the industry has a problem.

Whether EU support for distribution will make the difference remains to be seen.