EXCLUSIVE: European Union plans to increase Creative Europe’s budget by 8% for 2016.

The European Commission (EC) plans to increase the budget for its Creative Europe framework budget by 8% for 2016.

According to a EC working document for the European Union’s Draft Budget, the so-called commitments for the MEDIA and Culture sub-programmes, and the cross-sectoral strand could increase from 2015’s $200.4m (€177.7m) to $216.3m (€191.8m) next year.

Meanwhile, the payments could rise year-on-year by 18.7% from this year’s $186.3m (€165.2m) to $221.5m (€196.4m).

“Commitments” refers to the funding that can be agreed in contracts in a given year (with some of the money only being paid in subsequent years), while the term “payments” is used to describe the money actually paid out in that year and also to honour past commitments.

The budget’s proposed breakdown for the various action lines and the foreseen number of supported projects in the MEDIA sub-programme is as follows:

  • $7.9m (€7m) for 48 courses/workshops/events for new skills and networking
  • $37.2m (€33m) for the development of 350 audiovisual projects, including TV production
  • $1.58m (€1.4m) for five co-production funds
  • $10.4m (€9.2m) for 56 market access actions (audiovisual markets, promotion tools and stands)
  • $33.5m (€29.7m) for 677 distribution campaigns of European non-national films
  • $11.3m (€10m) for one network of cinemas screening a majority of European films
  • $3.3m (€2.9m) for 77 film festival and events
  • $2.4m (€2.1m) for 14 film literacy initiatives
  • $6.1m (€5.4m) for 17 new marketing and advertising tools (such as film community platforms).

In addition, 2016 will see Creative Europe’s much trumpeted Guarantee facility for SMEs, micro, small and medium-sized beneficiaries in the cultural and creative sectors coming into operation with $16.7m (€14.8m) in “commitments”.

A total of $15m (€13.3m) have been allocated for an envisaged 281 loans to be provided by banks to beneficiaries and a further $1.7m (€1.5m) for seven capacity building workshops.

Moreover, $5.4m (€4.8m) has been budgeted by the EU as its contribution to the financing of the network of Creative Europe desks in the 28 Member States.

The EU’s seven-year Creative Europe framework programme was launched last year with a $1.65bn (€1.46 bn) budget for the cultural and creative sectors, with the aim of raising the sectors’ share of EU gross domestic product (GDP) to 4.8% by 2020 from the current 3.3%-4.5%, and bringing the share of employment to 4.8% from the present 3.8% of Europe’s workforce.

In addition, the programme’s specific objectives for 2020 include creating 8,000 transnational partnerships involving at least three countries, having 240,000 professionals with learning experiences, and 145m people in the EU member states accessing non-national European audiovisual works (122m in 2009).

Digital Single Market update

The EC’s proposed copyright reform was a dominating theme at committee meetings of the European Parliament (EP) this week.

In an exchange of views with the EP’s Committee on Culture and Education, the EC Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, gave his views on the Commission’s proposals.

“It would be a mistake if we would support a ‘one size fits all’ method for the whole of culture because we have such a sophisticated system of copyright which varies from branches to branches: it is different in literature, it is different in the movie industry and in the music industry,” he said.

“What is important for us is to find a good balance between consumers’ access, on the one hand, and creators and artists’ remuneration, on the other,” Navracsics added, suggesting that portability could “solve the dilemma of territoriality.”

He argued for “modernisation, but not elimination of copyright: we have to modernise copyright systems because of the digital era and a lot of new developments, but we have to protect the basic institutions and elements of well functioning copyright systems.”

Thumbs-down for geoblocking

At the same time, the EP’s Legal Affairs Committee voted 23 votes to two to accept a much contested report by German MEP Julia Reda on the EU’s copyright framework.

Commenting after the vote, Reda explained that her report – which had attracted over 550 amendments - “recognises that copyright reform is necessary not just to improve the Digital Single Market but also to promote all EU citizens’ access to knowledge and information in the EU. The report calls on the European Commission to consider a wide variety of measures to bring copyright law up to speed with changing realities and improve cross-border access to our cultural diversity.”

The thorny issues of geoblocking and territoriality featured prominently in the MEPs’ deliberations.

French Greens deputy Pascal Durand argued that “industry geoblocking practices should not prevent cultural minorities living in EU Member States from accessing existing contents or services in their language that are either free or paid for”, while an amendment from German MEPs Christian Ehler and Sabine Verheyen and French colleague Marc Joulaud noted “the importance of territorial licenses in the EU, particularly with regards to audiovisual and film production which is primarily based on broadcasters’ pre-purchase or pre-financing systems.”

The MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee called on the Commission “to ensure that any initiative to modernise copyright is preceded by a study of its likely impact on the production, financing and distribution of films and television content, and also on cultural diversity.”

Reda’s non-legislative report is scheduled to be presented to the European Parliament as whole for a plenary vote on July 9.