It will mull options for opening up policy on subsidies

Belgium will give cinema a high profile during its turn at the helm of the European Union, the government announced Tuesday.

The presidency of the EU is held by a different member state every six months and Belgium’s term, during which it can set the org’s agenda, begins Thursday.

The cornerstone of its film policy will be established at a three-day conference, beginning Sunday in Mons, which will look at options for opening up EU policy on national and regional film subsidies.

At present, policy focuses primarily on production subsidies, justified for cultural reasons. Belgium wants to broaden this to cover aid to other parts of the creative process, such as script writing and post-production plus distribution and promotion. It also wants to see subsidies with economic goals and tax breaks written into the policy.

The aim is to influence revision of the 2001 Cinema Communication, the main EU policy document on the sector and the bible for decisions on what sort of state subsidies are permissible.

“We want to discuss moving from a Cinema Communication document that concentrates on production aid to one that encompasses more broadly and exhaustively all the types of aid that we judge to be legitimate and necessary when it comes to the creation, production and promotion of European cinema,” said Frederic Delcor, head of Belgium’s French community government cinema center.

Also up for discussion in July is how European films can be guaranteed space on video-on-demand services. Debate will focus on newly harmonized regulations that extend European content quotas already established for traditional media.”We’ll look at the type of constraints states expect to impose on audiovisual services to highlight European cinema,” Delcor said.

Presenting the priorities Monday at the Brussels European Film Festival, Delcor added that Belgium also hopes to push resolutions through Europe’s Council of Ministers on digital conservation of audio-visual heritage and support for digital projection in cinemas.

The cinema portfolio will be handled by Fadila Laanan, the socialist minister for culture, audiovisual policy and health in the French community government.

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