German film subsidies get EC’s OK

Neumann hopes to make Tuetonic filmmakers more competitive in international market

BERLIN — German film subsidies worth e180 million ($240 million) over the next three years were given the greenlight by the European Union’s antitrust commissioner Neelie Kroes on Thursday.

European Commission had launched a probe of subsidies, which were doubled by Germany’s new grand coalition government earlier this year, to see if they were tantamount to illegal state support for the film industry. It determined the subsidies were compatible with EU regulations.

“The commission has reached the conclusion that the new German film support is in line with the EU’s subsidy guidelines,” Kroes said in Brussels, referring to guidelines set up in 2001 that require films to satisfy certain criteria to be eligible for state aid.

The subsidies, amounting to about 15%-20% of a film’s production costs, are available to producers who make their films in Germany, where annual film production averages about $265 million.

Germany has the capacity for about twice as much as that, according to culture minister Bernd Neumann, who pushed through the sharp increase in subsidies this year.

Neumann wants to make German filmmakers more competitive in the international market.