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Cinema Communication: European Audiovisual Observatory publishes new ‘IRIS plus’ report

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Europa-Kommissionen vedtog sin meget omstridte biografmeddelelse i november 2013. Dette fornyede juridiske instrument fastlægger de regler, hvorefter EU vurderer, om europæiske filmfonde overholder EU's statsstøtteregler eller ej. Det så endelig dagens lys efter en op ad bakke høringsproces med industrien og beslutningstagere, hvoraf mange frygtede, at nye regler om territoriale udgifter og det såkaldte subsidiekapløb ville forringe de offentlige filmfinansieringsordninger. I sin splinternye IRIS plus-rapport undersøger European Audiovisual Observatory, en del af Europarådet i Strasbourg, indholdet af denne nye biografmeddelelse fra 2013.

The Observatory’s Legal Analysts, Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez and Amélie Lépinard, open with a useful overview of general EU rules concerning culture and state aid. They explain that market distortion by state aid is not permitted by EU legislation, exceptions to this being a.o. “aid to promote culture and heritage conservation”. It is this cultural exception which allows European film funds to provide money for European film productions, according to their various and often complex rules.

Moving on to the original 2001 Cinema Communication, Cabrera & Lépinard explain that the initial rules stipulated the “cultural” nature of the project, 80% of the production budget being spent in the country providing the aid, the level of aid intensity (i.e. percentage of the total budget) at 50% maximum, and the prohibition of aid for specific film making activities such as post-production. Given that the validity of this document was extended three times, its final expiry date fell on 31st of December 2012.

Efter en offentlig høring i juni 2011 blev et udkast til meddelelse offentliggjort i marts 2012 med forbehold for en yderligere tre måneders høringsperiode om dette nye dokument. Cabrera & Lépinard analyserer dette udkast til meddelelse fra 2012 grundigt med hensyn til omfanget af aktiviteter såvel som forskellige udvalgte svar fra offentlige myndigheder, filminstitutioner og professionelle organisationer. Et revideret udkast til meddelelse fra 2012 blev offentliggjort i april 2013 efterfulgt af en offentlig høring, der sluttede i maj 2013.

The final 2013 Communication was adopted in November 2013 and the report explains its differences with the original 2001 document. For example, the 2013 text allows aid “covering all aspects of film creation, from story concept to delivery to the audience”. One of the most controversial of all topics during the whole process was the territorial spending obligations. The new Communication frees up the producer’s spending obligations by potentially considerably reducing the amount of funding to be spent in the country providing the aid. The so –called “subsidy race” problem (countries vying with each other to offer the most attractive funding systems for foreign investment) has been solved by considering that “foreign production on a member state’s territory may have a positive effect on the national audiovisual sector”.

Cabrera concludes his lead article by emphasising the “relief and satisfaction” which welcomed the final document. It globally received a “thumbs up” from decision makers and industry representatives alike. The next two years will see the various member states bringing their aid schemes in line with the Communication. It will be interesting to see how the Commission monitors the so-called “subsidy race” or indeed how the compatibility of the 2013 Communication with the existing EU Treaties can be checked. The Observatory is clearly “watching this space”…

The Related Reporting section of this new report provides the Observatory’s latest articles on recent developments on film policy in Europe, focusing on topics such as Germanys’ recently amended film act or the increased VAT in Spain on cinemas, concerts and theatres.

reklame

The final Zoom section written by the Observatory’s’ Film Analysts Martin Kanzler and Julio Talavera Milla provides a digest of the latest facts and figures on the European cinema industry drawn from recent Observatory publications. This includes statistics on European theatrical markets, the relative success of European and US films in the European Union, the total number of theatrical feature films produced in Europe, and the roll-out of digital projection in Europe’s cinemas and assistance for cinemas in difficulty.

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