Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from James Purnell MP, Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism, Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Chairman

  I am writing to update you on progress following the partial Political Agreement on the MEDIA 2007 programme (11585/04) reached at the Culture and Audiovisual Council on 14 November 2005. Your Committee cleared this proposal on 12 October 2004; therefore this letter is for your information only.

  The final steps to agree the financial aspects on this programme have been ongoing at official level and we are now in a position to reach a final agreement by Ministers in Council.

  In early April, the European Commission, Council of Ministers and the European Parliament reached agreement on the size of the 2007-13 Financial Perspective (FP).

  Following this latest agreement, the Commission has produced a revised breakdown of the figures under each of the Headings of the overall budget. This document sets the budget for the MEDIA 2007 programme at a total of €671 million (£467 million) in 2004 prices for the seven years. This has been provisionally agreed at political level by Council. These numbers will now be confirmed by the final legal agreement, which will take place with the adoption of the Decision on the MEDIA 2007 programme on 18 May. The European Parliament is expected to approve this figure during their plenary vote on 17 May.

  Whilst the budget for this programme is considerably below the original amount proposed by the Commission, the Presidency, Commission and all Member States have agreed at Council Working Group level that the partial Political Agreement reached last year on the content of the new programme should not be reopened. Instead the focus should be on making the best and most effective use of the resources available.

  Therefore, amendments to the text of the financial article, Article 2, and the breakdown of resources across the different action lines, as set out in Chapter 2 Section 1.4 of the Annex, have been agreed.

  Regarding Article 2, Member States and the Commission have agreed to the insertion of the final ceiling of €671 million (£467 million) for the budget for the duration of the programme, noting that it is in 2004 prices and therefore subject to technical amendment. In addition, the insertion of a reference to the indicative breakdown of resources set out in the Annex has been agreed.

  Regarding the breakdown of the resources in the Annex, the following wording and figures have been agreed (changes are printed in bold-italics):

    "1.4  Breakdown of resources

    The funds available will be broken down according to the following guidelines:

Action line

Acquisition and improvement of skills
approximately 7%
at least 20%
at least 55%
approximately 9%
Pilot project
approximately 4%
Horizontal issues
at least 5%

    These percentages are indicative and subject to change by the Committee provided for in Article 11 in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 11(2).

    In order to secure overall efficiency and appropriate implementation of the objectives of the programme, as laid down in Article 1, Community actions should concentrate on the development of the actions carried out under the previous programmes cited in Recital (5).

    All actions shall be reviewed on a yearly basis in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 10(2), allowing the Community to react to the needs and the development of the sector.

    In order to secure the overall cultural and industrial objectives of the programme the decision on the annual breakdown of the budget should be based on an ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the action lines in the programme."

  The last paragraph was added following a proposal by the UK, agreed to by the Commission and other Member States. As you will be aware, the UK has repeatedly stressed that EU funding must be spent more efficiently and effectively across the EU budget as a whole.

  The figures as agreed demonstrate the overall trans-border focus of the programme, with the main priority being the distribution of audiovisual works across the EU. However, the annual review process of both the budget and the different action lines will enable the Management Committee to review the effectiveness of each of those action lines. It provides the necessary flexibility to make minor amendments to the percentage of budget to be allocated to them for the following year, within the context of the overall agreed figures. This, coupled with the reference to SMART objectives and indicators in Recital 18a of the agreed text, will ensure a more robust monitoring and evaluation and, consequently, a more effective programme than has previously been the case.

  We are content with both the final text of the Decision and the aim of agreeing the final Political Agreement on the MEDIA 2007 programme at the Culture and Audiovisual Council on 18 May, covering the financial aspects of the programme.

2 May 2006

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