EXCLUSIVE: Italian MEP Silvia Costa’s [pictured] report will be presented at the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education in Brussels next week.

The eagerly awaited report by Italian MEP Silvia Costa on the European Commission’s plans for a Creative Europe programme as successor to the present Culture and MEDIA programmes, has resulted in the drafting of no less than 197 amendments to the original EC text.

In an explanatory statement to her report, the rapporteur of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education welcomes “the Commission’s attempt to build bridges between the cultural and the audiovisual sectors, by [the] establishing of a Cross-sectoral strand.”

However, in one of her amendments, Costa notes that “bringing together the current Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus programmes within a single comprehensive framework – without, however diminishing their mutual independence – would more effectively support the cultural and creative sectors with a view to helping them take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital shift and globalisation and to address issues currently leading to market fragmentation, in particular through a cross-cultural approach.”

“It is however essential to ensure that this framework takes account of the specific nature of the cultural and creative sectors, in particular the audiovisual sector, as well as their particular needs, through tailor-made approaches within two independent programmes,” she continues.

“The Framework Programme established by this Regulation should also set up a coherent support structure for the different cultural and creative sectors consisting of a grants system complemented by a financial instrument,” she concludes.

Moreover, Costa proposes to clarify the definition of the terms of cultural and creative sectors, cultural and creative operators and SMEs in the Commission proposal since there had been substantial criticism from many MEPS and member states about the text being rather vague in places.

Her definition of SMEs as meaning “micro, small and medium-sized enterprises” will have also doubtless answered the concerns of colleagues on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs who had pointed out in an Opinion sent to Costa two weeks ago noting that “according to European Commission data, 99% of all EU enterprises are SMEs, and 90% of them are actually micro-enterprises (having less than 10 employees, in fact employing five people on average). These micro enterprises employ 53% of the workforce in Europe; therefore, they are essential for our economies.”

Similarly, in a resolution on Creative Europe proposed by the German Bundestag’s Committee for Culture and Media last week, it was argued that micro-enterprises should also be able, for example, to access the proposed guarantee loan facility.

In fact, Costa aims in her report to give a more specific and clearer description of the functioning of the Guarantee Facility, proposing, among other things, that “repayments generated by the guarantees shall be assigned to the Guarantee Facility for a period not exceeding the period of commitment plus 10 years. For the MEDIA Production Guarantee Fund, repayments generated by its operations set up in the period prior to that covered by the Framework Programme shall be assigned to theGuarantee Facility in the current period.”

In addition, she suggests that the types of loans covered by the Guarantee Facility “shall include, in particular, investment in tangible or intangible assets; business transfers; and working capital such as interim finance, gap finance and tax incentives.”

Meanwhile, Costa argues that a separate new article be introduced to the Commission’s text in order to address the issue of the Creative Europe Desks network.

“The proposed merger of the cultural contact points and MEDIA desks under the current programmes may create confusion and lead to unnecessary problems in Member States, resulting in a loss of expertise and specialised know-how in the cultural and audiovisual fields,” Costa writes. “Member States should therefore be free to decide whether they merge their CCP and MEDIA desks. Expertise and specialisation in each sector should be maintained.”

While welcoming the proposed budget of €1.801bn for Creative Europe, Costa notes that “the scope of the Framework programme is wider than before with the inclusion of the cultural and creative industries, the increase of the number of beneficiaries and participating countries, and the number of actions to be implemented.”

She therefore proposes a budgetary allocation between the MEDIA and Culture programmes and the Cross-sectoral Strand to have “at least 55% for the MEDIA programme; at least 30% for the Culture programme; and a maximum of 15% for the Cross-sectoral Strand, with at least 4% being allocated for the transnational cooperation measures (…) and for the Creative Desk Network.”

At the same time, Costa notes “with concern” that the merging of the Culture and MEDIA programmes could undermine their visibiilty and therefore offers amendments which would retain the existing programme logos, “and ensure the visibility of the Creative Europe Framework Programme by establishing for it a visual identity, including an emblem.”

Costa will officially present her report at a sitting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education in Brussels next week.