That timetable now looks unlikely. In a letter written toUK Member of European Parliament John Bowis seen by Screen International, Neelie Kroes,European Commissioner for Competition, gave some hints about the causes of the delay.
"When reviewing the filmsupport policy of an EU Member State, the role of the Commission is limited toensuring that the policy complies with the treaty obligations and, inparticular, the state aid rules for the audiovisual sector. The state aid rulesfor the audiovisual sector do not prevent an aid scheme from benefitingnon-European productions.
"However, as regards the treatment of Europeanco-productions in the
Earlier this month, MichelleSutton, a member of the European Commission competition cabinet stated: "We have raisedconcerns with the UK authorities about whether the current Cultural Test forBritish Films meets the requirement of the Communication that aid be directedto a cultural product and that the aided production is cultural according toverifiable national criteria (in compliance with the principle ofsubsidiarity),"
Meanwhile, this week,another British MEP, Roger Helmer, has written to Commissioner Kroes, askingher about concerns expressed by the industry in
A Commission spokesperson told ScreenDaily.com that "it is notunusual for State aid cases to take several months to be resolved."
Shewas unable to provide a time frame as to when the Commission will grant its approvalfor the
"I fully understand people'sanxiety over this," said a spokesperson from HM Revenue & Customs. "It hastaken longer than we anticipated, but the relief, when it is approved, willapply retrospectively from the first of April (2006) anyway. It's a nuisancebut it is not a disaster."
Various companies havesprung up in recent months offering to cash flow the tax credits while the
In a typical case, oneproducer told ScreenDaily.com, thecompany cash flowing the tax credit deal will take 25%of the total credit as well as costs.
The producer offered ahypothetical example of a $1.9m (£1m) feature. "If you spend a minimum of 25%in the
These issues and anomalieswill come under discussion during today's Screen International UK Film Finance conference. Pointing to thecritical juncture of the talks, some speakers from government bodies includingthe Department of Culture Media and Sport and HM Revenue & Customs whichhad been due to participate in the conference have pulled out.
"We took the decision towithdraw after a lot of thought," said one speaker, who had pulled out: "If we were tospeak, the number one question people would want answering, we can't answer.All we could do is stonewall and I don't think thatwould be to anybody's benefit."