IRIS Plus 2012-3: The Future of State Aid

Author: Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/04/2012

As every year, May 2012 will see an edition of the Cannes Film Festival along with a new Golden Palm winner. Less in the news but more important for the industry will be the Cannes Film Market, which takes place in parallel. It will allow over 10,000 film industry professionals from over 100 countries to pick from around 4,000 films of which approximately 1,500 will be screened. And whenever films are at the center of an event, the money issue is never far away– including the question as to how states may (or may not) aid the film industry.

Since early this year, the audiovisual sector has been waiting for the European Commission's latest input as to the European legal framework that will regulate state aid to cinema after the current rules contained in the Cinema Communication 2001 cease to apply. When the 2012 Draft Communication was finally released in March of this year, the various stakeholders had to sharpen their pens to submit their views on the Commission's proposal once again. In the process it might take them a while to compare earlier proposals of the Commission and related comments from the industry with the latest Commission text, given that the comments of the public hearings preceding the Draft Communication were published by the Commission but not summarized. This task will be significantly eased by the Lead Article of this IRIS plus which explains the roots and broad outlines of EU state aid law, the rules of the Cinema Communication 2001, as well as the preceding history of the various moves to change these rules. Last but not least, it highlights the main comments made by the film industry professionals to the Issue Paper that the Commission circulated in preparation of its 2012 Draft Communication.

We would like to stress that because the regulation of state aid to the Cinema sector is as politically important as it is sensitive, the Observatory does count on its readers to understand this publication as a mere "secretarial" service to all parties interested and devoid of any intent to influence the ongoing discussion. In contrast, the Related Reporting section is very much our own content which will fill you in on the latest developments in Europe concerning cinema. Over the past 6 months we had no reporting on any relevant EU Commission state aid decision and only few entries to related film policies. More activities have been noted by our national correspondents as far as cinema related regulation and policies are concerned. Also, further Observatory-generated content can be found in the ZOOM section, in which one of our Observatory analysts for Information on Markets and Financing updates you on issues such as the relative success of European and US films in the EU, the evolution in funding spend by funds in Europe and the range of activities supported by funds – to mention but a few.

Whether you debate on cinema policies at Cannes or elsewhere, take the advantage of being informed by this IRIS plus!