Xavier Troussard, Head of Unit Creative Europe Programme, has been at IFFR this week, telling industry professionals what they can (and can’t) expect from the new €1.46bn fund.

With a budget of €1.46bn over the next seven years – 9% more than current levels – MEDIA’s Creative Europe: Support Programme is seen as vital for sustaining and growing the European Film Industry.

One particular Fund of interest to Rotterdam is the new €1.5m Creative Europe co-production fund.

IFFR’s Hubert Bals Fund, which has now lost its Government support, is one of several funds looking to apply for support from Creative Europe.

Troussard has cautioned potential applicants that “the Creative Europe Programme is not at all a programme that is supposed to compensate for changes in public and private financing available for production.”

Speaking more bluntly, he told ScreenDaily that the new fund was “not at all to give [applicants] more money to do their usual business. It’s really for them to open up a new activity offering possibilities for parts of Europe where there are no such funds and therefore very little activity of co-production.”

Creative Europe will be looking for “a fund like Hubert Bals to bring its expertise to allow co-producers from other member states to go and develop co-productions with foreign partners.”

The MEDIA head did, however, suggest that if the new scheme works well and provides “clear added value,” the Creative Europe support would be available on a long term basis.

“The intention would be to give some continuity because these are activities in which you have to invest in the medium and long term,” he said.

“We have first to see what we get out of the first call before making decisions for the future.”

Guarantee Fund

Troussard also gave further detail of how the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Fund, due to be introduced in 2016, will work. The fund is worth €121million.

“[The fund] will be operated by the European Investment Fund,” he explained.

“They will select a number of financial intermediaries – banks or guarantee funds – that will constitute some package of loans on which we (Creative Europe) will bring a guarantee.

“It will facilitate the access to financing for very small organisations or for film producers. It can cover a wide range of needs.”

A recent study published by MEDIA revealed that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the film sector often struggle to secure loans.

“[SMEs] have assets that are difficult for the banks to evaluate because these are intangible assets – copyright and that kind of thing,” said Troussard.

“They also have business models that are unknown to most bankers. The needs in the sector are very widespread, from big loans for film production for example up to a lot of a very small loans – we’re talking about €25,000 – for very small cultural operators.

“We have to find a way to stimulate these kind of loans in the sector and [the Guarantee Fund] is the instrument we will put in place.”

This fund won’t go “live” until 2016. Over the next two years, Creative Europe will start on a “capacity building programme,” inviting banks and financial intermediaries to share knowledge about business models.

MEDIA Mundus success?

Asked how successful he felt the 2011-2013 MEDIA Mundus Programme - aimed at reinforcing global cooperation between EU and non-European professionals - had been, Troussard replied: “It’s probably a mixed picture. It was new and experimental.

“The added value of having this more open partnership between European and non-European partners is clear.

“In some of these cases, I got the impression that we lacked strategy choices and that these was a dispersion of resources and even, at times, some competition between European players to go abroad.”

New opportunities

The new programme has several support schemes that will allow applicants to work with external partners.

However, Troussard and his team will be asking for a clearer expression of what applicants are looking to achieve. “Is it about learning…is it about opening new market opportunities?”

Troussard intends to “develop a dialogue” with the sector so  a consensus can be reached over where priorities should lie.

“What is important is we do not see Creative Europe operating in a vacuum,” he added.

“We are rather a small support programme compared to what exists at national level but we want to stimulate a debate about what is the best complementarity we can bring to what exists at national level and also look at how collectively we address the changes the digital environment is bringing.

“We want to be more and more involved in policy debates.”

Troussard also praised Rotterdam’s State Of Europe sidebar. “What I like is that the Rotterdam Film Festival seems to be engaged in those changes,” he stated.

“I have found an environment that is very open to debate and very open to innovative ideas.”