EU pix fund in flux

Members split over plan to boost biz

BRUSSELS — EU culture ministers failed to reach agreement Monday on plans for a $68 million film guarantee fund to help stimulate growth in the industry in Europe.

A block of member states, led by Germany, remains opposed to the fund, which requires a greenlight from all 15 EU member states before it can be set up.

German opposition to the fund is particularly strong due to the preference of Bonn for funding at national and regional level for films and other cultural products. Much of Germany’s funding for films and TV shows is given out by Germany’s regional states (“Lander”), which might take the government to court if it took any action that might jeopardize the status quo.

But Commission officials confirmed to Daily Variety Monday that European culture chief Marcelino Oreja remains committed to the plan, which has the support of at least eight member states, including France, Denmark, Italy, Ireland and Portugal.

The French, disappointed by their failure to persuade their fellow member states to toughen the EU’s quota system, are believed to be smarting at this latest setback.

France’s socialist culture chief Catherine Trautmann told her fellow ministers that she was “very dissatisfied” with the way the issue had been handled by the Dutch, who currently hold the presidency (political leadership) of the EU.

Progress on the fund has been blocked over the last few months due to opposition from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Only the latter has so far showed signs that it may be willing to withdraw its opposition.

With no break of the deadlock in sight, officials in the Commission will now have to draw up a new set of proposals if they hope to see any progress on this issue.

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