Budget Battle Looms Over New EU Cultural Funding Program

Silvia Costa, the European Parliament representative for the new Creative Europe program, pledges to fight budget cuts.

KARLOVY VARY, CZECH REPUBLIC – The European Parliament’s representative for Creative Europe, a new cultural funding program due to launch next year, pledged Sunday to fight to protect it from planned budget cuts.

Silvia Costa, an Italian member of the European Parliament and culture committee member who is the legislative body’s lead figure for Creative Europe, said that she would fight moves to cut the annual budget for the seven-year program from $2.3 billion (1.8 billion euros) to $1.7 billion (1.3 billion euros).

“I hope we shall at least draw the line at $1.9 billion (1.5 billion euros),” she said, adding: “But we must remember that compared with previous budgets covering this sector, we actually have extra means under this program.”

Speaking at a presentation about the new program – which brings together existing European Union cultural support programs Media (for film and the audiovisual industry) and Culture (for other cultural sectors, such as museums and architecture), Costa said key decisions were due within the European Parliament within the next two weeks.

She would be lobbying for support from the rapporteur for finance and other members of parliament (MEPs) to bring pressure to bear on the European Commission – which implements EU programs, not to cut too deep.

The Creative Europe program is part of a wider new national financial framework for the EU due to be introduced next year to run until 2020.

The new Multiannual Financial Framework under the Europe 2020 initiative aims to create a strategy for “smart, sustainable,  inclusive growth” in the 28 member bloc (including Croatia that formally joins the Euro club tomorrow, July 1). MFF will finance all European programs – currently budgeted at Euro 960 billion.

With MEPs lobbying to keep funding at 2007-2013 levels battling EC proposals for overall cuts of 3 percent, cultural programs are targeted for a 15 percent cut Costa said.

A final decision is due in September or October but until then activities currently funded under the Media Program – which supports movie development, distribution and other measures to enhance Europe’s AV industry and transnational circulation of movies and AV products, are in something of a state of flux, insiders say.

“It’s not clear when the scheduled round of submissions for MEDIA due in November will actually go ahead,” one European producer who works closely with the program told The Hollywood Reporter.

Creative Europe will spend 55 percent of its budget on MEDIA projects, 30 percent on culture and 15 percent on trans-sectorial stands, including a loan guarantee scheme to reinforce cooperation between MEDIA activities and those of the wider cultural sphere.