Spanish-backed moves to set up a European Film CommissionNetwork have gained ground with news that European Commissioner for Culture,Viviane Reding, is backing the initiative.

Now supported by Film Commissions from the UK, Ireland,Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal,Belgium, and Spain, the proposed Network would exchange information, sharetraining opportunities and represent the various Film Commissions in itsdealings with the European Union.

In a letter to Carlos Rosado, president of the Spain FilmCommission, Ms Reding said such co-operative networks were "vital assetsfor the continuous flow of creative production and the development ofcompetitiveness in the audiovisual sector in Europe."

She continued: "I would therefore like to encourageyour efforts towards the creation of a European association of FilmCommissions," adding that she would be happy to consult with such a body.

The so-called Malaga Declaration, supported by the abovecommissions, came out of the first-even European Encounter on Film Commissions,organised by Spain last December in a move to stress the importance ofco-ordination between the various film bodies, particularly with regard todeveloping EU audiovisual policy. Rosado said he would continue to work towardsthe establishment of the network in Cannes this week.