The UK, Germany, France and Austria have voiced “key concerns” in a joint position paper on the European Commission’s (EC) draft Cinema Communication for state aid for films and other audiovisual works.
In a document obtained by Screen Daily, the four member states’ delegations are particularly concerned about the Communication’s proposed restriction to territoriality clauses which would see a film support scheme not being allowed to go beyond the obligation to spend more than 100% of the aid amount locally.
“This new rule would call into question the continued vialbility of national film support schemes in many Member States, on whose benefits and continuity the European film industry has relied and on which basis industry has made considerable investments,” the quartet’s paper argued.
“The proposed change is likely to weaken national industries and undermine the sector with the result that fewer films are made, both in the individual Member States and across the EEA [European Economic Area] as a whole. This would mean less creative and cultural expression and a dilution of cultural identity shared between filmmakers and audiences.”
Moreover, such changes, the paper suggested, could lead to producers engaging in ‘subsidy shopping’ around Europe and thus “accessing higher incentive amounts across a number of Member States without a compensatory increase in the overall level of European film production.”
The quartet was also critical of the EC’s proposal for a regressive scale linked to production expenditure if the aided film is not classified as a European work. They claimed that this would have “a significant negative impact on the international competitiveness of Europe as a production location, as large international productions would increasingly switch to non-European production facilities“ and also have “negative consequences on the infrastructure of Member States’ film industries, affecting the viability of making films on all scales, thereby reducing the range of culturally rich products for audiences in the EU and beyond.”
Screen Daily understands that the four Member States have been invited to a meeting with the Commission at the beginning of June to discuss these issues.
Meanwhile, EC Commissioner Vassiliou had meetings in Cannes on Monday (June 21) with ARTE President Véronique Cayla and France’s newly appointed Minister of Culture and Communications Aurélie Filippetti as well as an informal gathering with such European professionals as Rome Film Festival chief Marco Mueller, Cinecitta Luce’s Roberto Cicutto and Polish producer-director Dariusz Jablonski.