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Procedure : 2002/2035(COS)
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Tuesday, 2 July 2002 - Strasbourg
Cinematographic and other audiovisual works

European Parliament resolution on the the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on certain legal aspects relating to cinematographic and other audiovisual works (COM(2001) 534 – C5&nbhy;0078/2002 – 2002/2035(COS))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2001) 534 – C5&nbhy;0078/2002(1)),

–   having regard to Articles 151 and 157 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Decision No 163/2001/EC of 19 January 2001 on the implementation of a training programme for professionals in the European audiovisual programme industry (MEDIA-Training) (2001-2005)(2),

–   having regard to Council Decision 2000/821/EC of 20 December 2000 on the implementation of a programme to encourage the development, distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works (MEDIA Plus - Development, Distribution and Promotion) (2001-2005)(3),

–   having regard to the European Investment Bank"s i2i initiative,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 September 2000 on audiovisual policy: media and digital technology(4),

–   having regard to the Council resolution of 12 February 2001 on national aid to the film and audiovisual industries(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 October 2001 on Television without Frontiers: application of Directive 89/552/EEC(6),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 November 2001 on achieving better circulation of European films in the internal market and the candidate countries(7),

–   having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (A5&nbhy;0222/2002),

A.   whereas the Commission communication is complementary to the European Parliament"s abovementioned resolution of 13 November 2001,

B.   whereas the Commission"s position on State aid for the audiovisual sector is of extreme importance,

C.   whereas the sector has both an industrial and cultural nature,

D.   whereas it is important to safeguard our cinematographic heritage,

E.   whereas digital film poses a challenge for the future of the sector,

F.   whereas the Commission has announced studies on the following subjects: the rating of audiovisual works, financial measures, financial flows, the protection of heritage and registration schemes,

G.   whereas tax concessions and special financial instruments are of fundamental importance for the undercapitalised European audiovisual sector,

H.   whereas the Commission intends to examine the definitions of "European work" and "independent producer",

I.   whereas the Commission is to set up two groups of experts, one comprising professionals and the other made up of individuals from the institutional realm,

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication and urges that the proposed timetable for action be strictly adhered to;

2.  Urges the Commission to do everything possible to ensure that audiovisual works can move freely within the internal market by 2005; would also like to see initiatives taken on the basis of its abovementioned resolution of 13 November 2001, which is complementary to the communication under consideration;

State aid for the audiovisual sector

3.  Supports the Commission"s moves to make the criteria it uses when examining aid to the audiovisual sector in the Member States more transparent; regrets the fact that certain parts of its communication of September 2001 on this topic, however, remain vague or are incomplete;

4.  Calls on the Commission, in assessing the funding of cinema films, other audiovisual works and public-service radio from the point of view of aid legislation, to take account of the relevant judgments of the European Court of Justice e.g. the Preussen-Elektra judgment of March 2001;

5.  Calls on the Commission to amend, where necessary, the legislative provisions that deal with State aid in order to take account of the fact that the audiovisual sector is both cultural and industrial in nature;

6.  Notes that the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund can also have an important role to play in protecting audiovisual heritage and supporting the European audiovisual sector in general, without this being included under the heading of State aid;

7.  Points out that there is no real competition and only limited distribution between the EU national audiovisual industries, and that the European market is largely dominated by the United States industry; emphasises that the European Union must adopt a proactive policy designed to foster the production and distribution of cinematographic works;

8.  Urges that legal certainty, which the Commission wishes to generate in the audiovisual sector with respect to State aid, should be guaranteed and should continue over coming years and takes the view that, if a re-examination of this issue is considered necessary in June 2004, this should lead to increased flexibility rather than a stricter application of the aid rules of EU competition law, and genuine consideration of the cultural and industrial needs of the cinematographic and audiovisual sector;

Protection of heritage and exploitation of audiovisual works

9.  Stresses the need for compulsory legal deposit of works by the Member States, in line with the European Convention for the protection of the Audiovisual Heritage and the Additional Protocol on TV productions; calls on the public support funds for the audiovisual sector, as a transitional measure, to make it compulsory for their beneficiaries to deposit copies of any of their works which have received State aid through these funds;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to create an instrument to cofinance work to digitise archives, through a specific measure, for instance, in the next version of the MEDIA programme, based on a MEDIA Plus pilot project;

11.  Supports the Commission's aim of carrying out a complementary study on registration schemes and databases, before expressing an opinion as to the need for legislative measures, and welcomes in principle the establishment of a public national film register (without copyright law implications);

12.  Agrees with the Commission that the detail concerning right-holders databases should be held over for consideration as part of work on intellectual property;

13.  Strongly encourages cooperation between the parties involved (right-holders and broadcasters) with a view to resolving the specific problems which may be encountered in new use of old works, while complying with the rights guaranteed by European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society(8);


14.  Confirms that it seems desirable to entrust the definition of digital film standards to the market, but that in order to avoid undesirable developments, the audiovisual industries in the EU and the USA should cooperate to that end;

15.  Urges that specific research on digital film should be included in the sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development; deplores the lack of specific provisions to support the introduction of digital platforms (video on demand);

16.  Calls on the Commission, the EIB and the Council to examine the possibility of contributing to the funding of extremely expensive digital projection equipment for European cinemas;

Tax issues

17.  Believes that it is important to reduce the VAT rates applicable to audiovisual cultural products and services, in the review of Annex H of the sixth VAT directive, by analogy with the reduced rates applied to other cultural sectors;

18.  Urges the Member States to use the measures already available to them, including the option to apply a reduced rate to cinema tickets;

19.  Is disappointed that the Commission, in its communication, does not encourage the Member States to introduce tax incentives in their territories to attract investment in film;


20.  Supports the Commission"s initiative to organise an external study on the way in which rating is organised in the EEA, the reasons for differences and their impact on the marketing of films;

21.  Considers it desirable, however, to take account of differing cultural traditions and peculiarities, while appreciating the need for a uniform evaluation as regards measures to protect human rights;

Other measures to improve the circulation of films

22.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the Member States to foster the creation of financial institutions specialising in the audiovisual sector, and to facilitate the creation of a risk capital fund, so as to be better able to respond to the i2i audiovisual initiative by the EIB and the Commission; notes, however, that this must not result in small and medium-sized enterprises in the film sector being disadvantaged;

23.  Hopes that the EIB is able to process the files submitted to it efficiently; on this point, believes that it is essential for the EIB to set up a special section for audiovisual matters, to centralise applications and to be made up of staff with the relevant skills for evaluating such projects;

24.  Welcomes the Commission"s intention to investigate appropriate financial measures for promoting the production and circulation of European audiovisual works, and to analyse financial flows in the sector;

25.  Notes in that context that an in-depth analysis of European film audiences and the way in which they relate to American and European films could give an insight into the marketing impact of the films within the audiovisual sector;

26.  Welcomes the inclusion of "image education" in the eLearning programme;

27.  Considers that the idea of creating a television channel devoted to European film entails the risk that this initiative will lead to a reduction in the broadcasting of European works on other TV channels;

28.  Notes that a European-wide network of broadcasters offering channels for children would be a good instrument for supporting the production and distribution of better European children's films;

Questions to be considered in the review of the Television without Frontiers Directive

29.  Calls for the issue of producing definitions of "European work" and "independent producer" to be analysed within the context of a revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive or, at least, for a thorough study of the issue to be undertaken by the end of 2002 at the latest, with a view to determining whether new or harmonised definitions are necessary and whether they would make procedures more transparent and simpler for the professionals;

30.  Refers also to the practice, current in some Member States, of "buy-out" contracts, which considerably restrict contractual freedom at producer level;

31.  Draws attention to paragraph 8 of the abovementioned resolution of 13 November 2001 on achieving better circulation of European films in the internal market and the candidate countries, particularly with regard to the text in point (c) regarding investment in production;

32.  Shares the Commission"s opinion on the issue of media chronology and on-line rights;

33.  Hopes that, as part of the revision of the abovementioned Directive, general rules can be laid down on new audiovisual services, together with a method for regulating media ownership which will provide a better guarantee of cultural pluralism;

Next steps

34.  Urges the Commission and the Council to take the recommendations of the groups of experts into account as far as possible, to boost the European audiovisual sector;

35.  Welcomes any consideration by the Convention on the future of Europe and calls for Article 151 of the EC Treaty to be changed to operate under qualified majority rules;

Other issues

36.  Points out that, within the scope of the internal market, the Member States" audiovisual sector industries are facing difficulties and complaining about the extra cost of ensuring that the services they supply comply with national requirements, and there is thus a need to do everything possible to facilitate the free movement of audiovisual works within the internal market between now and 2005;

37.  Draws attention to the absence of a proper competitive system in the audiovisual sector, and points out that the law on State aids needs adapting, so that the twofold cultural and industrial nature of the audiovisual sector is taken into account;

38.  Supports the Commission"s objective of providing operators in the audiovisual sector with a clear and predictable strategic context in the form of a reliable legislative framework;

39.  Supports the Commission initiative of providing for a review of the "Television without Frontiers" directive by the end of 2002, to amend the current provisions and clarify the concepts of "European work" and "independent producer", without prejudice to initiating infringement proceedings against Member States that have not correctly transposed the "Television without Frontiers" directive;

40.  Considers that undertakings must have a central and decisive role in the development of the audiovisual system and hence that their growth potential must be maximised;

41.  Considers that, in order to revive production, there needs to be some prospect of a system that provides better incentives and public funding for the private sector, and more tax concessions for television and film producers; points out that such a scheme will stimulate the growth of smaller businesses and encourage genuine competition;

42.  Takes the view that there is a need to consider the legal bases for promoting the European film production industry, so that the expectations being vested in e-cinema can be fulfilled;

o   o

43.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 43, 16.2.2002, p. 6.
(2) OJ L 26, 27.1.2001, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 336, 30.12.2000, p. 82.
(4) OJ C 135, 7.5.2001, p. 181.
(5) OJ C 73, 6.3.2001, p. 3.
(6) OJ C 87 E, 11.4.2002, p. 221.
(7) OJ C 140 E, 13.6.2002, p. 143.
(8) OJ L 167, 22.6.2001, p. 10.

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