European members of Parliament on Sept. 12 endorsed plans to double the European Union's aid to filmmakers.


BRUSSELS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- European members of Parliament on Sept. 12 endorsed plans to double the European Union's aid to filmmakers.

Meeting in Brussels, the European Parliament's Culture Committee backed proposals by the European Commission for a new €1 billion ($1.3 billion) seven-year program of aid for filmmakers, MEDIA 2007.

The proposal, however, will be kept on the shelf for the time being as the EU's overall budget for 2007-13 has yet to be decided. The British government -- which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency -- has said it will unveil a new draft budget in November at the earliest.

The Parliament report was drafted by German MEP Ruth Hieronymi, who said in an interview that "the EU has completely failed to make effective use of its own audiovisual market," adding that American movies and television continue to dominate.

"The problem is that we have different traditions and languages in Europe," she said. "There is a closed-shop mentality in Europe: filmmakers only think of their own country's market, and never about European-wide cooperation."

The proposed €1 billion budget "is the minimum needed to achieve the objectives of the MEDIA program" and will provide support in training, development, distribution and promotion in European film and television, Hieronymi said. Her report notes that every euro invested in the MEDIA program generates €5.75 ($7) in follow-up investments, €2.83 ($3.47) in education, €7.20 ($8.84) in distribution and €4.19 ($5.14) in development.

MEDIA 2007 is intended to replace the current support programs for the European audiovisual sector, MEDIA Plus and MEDIA Training.

The MEDIA program supports close to 250 works annually, and helps distribute more than 50 European films outside their countries of origin. During the past 12 years, it has promoted some 4,000 European works including Shekhar Kapur's "Elizabeth," Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark" and Roberto Benigni's "La Vita e Bella."

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