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16 May, 2014

EU adopts new strategy to boost film competitiveness

Brussels, 15 May 2014, European Commission Press release – European films represent nearly two thirds of releases in the EU but account for only one third of ticket sales. While the number of films produced in Europe increased from around 1100 in 2008 to 1300 in 2012, most European films are shown only in the country where they were made and are rarely distributed across borders.

A new EU strategy on ‘European film in the digital era’, launched by the European Commission today, seeks to address this challenge by highlighting the need to make the most of new methods of distribution to enhance cultural diversity and competitiveness.

“Improving the international distribution of European films is crucial, not just economically but also in terms of diversity,” said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Multilingualism. “This is one of the objectives of our Creative Europe MEDIA programme and an area where we add real value at European level. But it is clear that more needs to be done to increase the audience for European-made films and to improve cross-border cooperation. I look forward to discussing this new strategy for the first time with industry representatives during the coming days at the Cannes Film Festival.”

The Commission’s strategy paper suggests that public funding should focus more on expanding the audience for European films and increasing support for development, promotion and international distribution. At present nearly 70% of national public funding is devoted to producing films rather than maximising audience potential. More flexibility and experimentation regarding how and when films are screened is also recommended, given the increasing popularity of video-on-demand and downloading.

The strategy will encourage a new process of dialogue – the so-called European Film Forum – to encourage an exchange of ideas on how national, regional and EU audiovisual policies can better complement each other and respond to challenges such as digitisation and the difficulties many film companies face in trying to obtain funding.

Starting with a conference today at the film festival in Cannes, the Forum will bring together experts from the European Commission, Member States, national and regional film funds, and other industry representatives. It will benefit from support through the Creative Europe programme for seminars, data collection and transnational exchange.

Key figures

  • €2.1 billion is provided annually in support of the European audiovisual industry by European film funds (source: European Audiovisual Observatory, Public Funding for Film and Audiovisual Works in Europe). This includes around €110 million a year from the Creative Europe MEDIA programme.
  • In 2012, around 1300 films were produced in the EU compared to just over 800 in the United States.
  • Only 8% of European films are released in a cinema in a country outside the EU.
  • In 2012, more than 60% of all films released in the EU were European, but only one third of tickets sold were for a European film. By comparison, US productions accounted for 20% of releases and 65% of admissions in the EU.
  • Less than 10% of a film’s budget is typically spent on distribution.
  • Television is still the most widely used platform for watching films. In 2011, more than 40% of the 122 000 feature films shown on TV in the EU were of European origin (8% were national productions, 15% were produced in other European countries and nearly 20% were European co-productions either in whole or in part).
  • In 2012, the video-on-demand market recorded a growth rate of 60% in Germany and 15% in France.
  • The average EU production budget ranges from nearly €11 million the UK, €5 million in Germany and France to €300 000 in Hungary and Estonia. The average budget for US-produced films is $15 million (€11 million).


Creative Europe is the fifth generation of EU funding programmes supporting the cultural and creative sectors. It was launched on 1 January, with a budget of nearly €1.5 billion for 2014-2020. The programme will allocate at least 56% of its budget for its MEDIA sub-programme.

Since 1991, MEDIA (acronym for ‘Mesures pour encourager le développement de l’industrie audiovisuelle’ – measures to encourage the development of the audiovisual industry) has invested €1.7 billion in film development, distribution, training and innovation with the aim of enhancing the diversity and international competitiveness of the European film and audiovisual industry. In addition to its support for film-makers, MEDIA fund will support more than 2 000 European cinemas where at least 50% of the films they screen are European.

Today the Commission has adopted a Communication on European film in the digital era. It will complement the programme by a policy debate between the Commission and interested parties in the Member States, the film funds and other policy makers and the film professionals. The aim is to increase the complementarity between the support activities carried out at EU and national levels and to maximise their overall added value for the European films and for their public.

For more information: Communication on European film in the digital era