The European Commission is to propose to the Council of Ministers and European Parliament that the existing MEDIA Plus and MEDIA Training programmes be extended for another year until the end of 2006.

According to a statement, the aim of this extension would be "to ensure continuity of Community action in these fields until such time as the EU's new financial perspective kicks in, in 2007."

"The European Union's programmes are recognised by and meet with interest from culture professionals", Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner responsible for culture and audiovisual affairs said. "MEDIA provides support each year for close on 250 works, and for more than 50 European films to be distributed outside their countries of origin."

In concrete terms, the new budgetary package allocated to MEDIA Plus would grow from Euros 350 m to Euros 435.6 m (2001-2006) and to MEDIA Training from Euros 50m to Euros 57.4 m (2001-2006).

Reding also plans to propose a two-year extension for the "Culture 2000" programme, which provides support for collaborative projects with a view to highlighting Europe's cultural diversity and helping bring about a shared cultural area in Europe, and expires at the end of 2004.