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SPEECH/10/170

Androulla VASSILIOU

Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

The Mediterranean: A seamless space for works, sounds and images

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

COPEAM Conference

Paris, 10 April 2010

Dear Minister Mitterrand

Dear Minister Gonzales- Sinde

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was delighted to accept your kind invitation to participate at the opening ceremony of COPEAM’s 2010 conference in the company of so many distinguished personalities and in such a prestigious venue.

Dear President Hoog, thank you for your kind introductory words. I would like to add my voice to the chorus of praise for your organisation and to commend COPEAM's effort to become a forum for dialogue, which lies at the heart of your mission.

I am sure that this will have a positive impact around the Mediterranean for our cultural and social relations and – I would add – in political terms as well. Coming myself from an Island in the middle of the Mediterranean, the objectives of COPEAM are close to my heart.

The European Union has always believed in the power of dialogue to build peaceful and collaborative relations in the region. This has been the beacon the EU has followed as its policy framework developed through the Barcelona process first and the Union for the Mediterranean later.

I am proud of the Union’s long–standing effort to promote the principle of dialogue and cooperation beyond its borders.

I am also proud of the political initiatives and practical projects we have put in place to open tangible spaces of cooperation with our partner countries – including in the audiovisual area. Over the past few years, the external dimension of the EU audiovisual policy has indeed become an expanding policy field.

Today we are starting to understand better how the media affect intercultural dialogue. We also see more clearly how different cultures form an image of each other through the media. As we begin to think more deeply about the cultural factors of our individual and collective identity, the intercultural impact of our media takes on a whole new meaning.

I believe that the main point is how to create the best media environment for the development of an informed, critical and creative public opinion.

How can we build the physical, business, and social infrastructure needed for the different voices and views to interact with each other across the boundaries drawn by history and culture?

The media are much more than broadcasters. For instance, when we talk about media literacy:

  • we talk about access;

  • we talk about people’s ability to use the technologies for their own benefit; but above all

  • we talk about people’s ability to interpret the media and take full advantage of their potential for self development.

When these conditions are met, I believe that the media can be an important factor of civic and social progress. It offers opportunity to improve mutual understanding. And this is the reason why I wholeheartedly commend COPEAM's efforts to bring the peoples of the Mediterranean rim closer together. I am happy to see that many of these policies or actions converge with the principles the European Commission follows in its policies.

More specifically, the European Commission is devoting several programmes to the audiovisual sector in the Mediterranean.

EuropAid, the European Commission's service responsible for implementing external aid programmes under the responsibility of my colleague Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development, supports directly several COPEAM's projects described in the Cairo resolution. Since 2006, it is estimated that 14 millions euros have been committed in the Mediterranean Audiovisual and Media sectors to projects directly linked with the objectives of COPEAM.

The Euromed audiovisual is one of the programmes used to that effect. The third edition of this programme was launched in July last year with a budget of 11 millions € over for the period 2009-2012. It aims to increase the potential of a developing audiovisual market in the Mediterranean region, and to assist Mediterranean films in securing a place on the global scene.

Additionally, the programme Information and Communication financed especially the project Euromed News to create a Mediterranean network of Public TV broadcasters, in which COPEAM was directly involved.

In my portfolio, I am now responsible for the MEDIA programme which supports particularly the development and the distribution of thousands of EU films. A parallel programme is developing the external dimension of the audiovisual policy. First called MEDIA international it has now become MEDIA Mundus.

Agreed only last October and due to start in 2011, this programme, with a budget of 15 million euros for the period 2011-2013, aims to explore ways of reinforcing cultural cooperation and commercial relations between Europe's audiovisual professionals and their counterparts in third countries It is also designed to improve the circulation and exposure of audiovisual works worldwide and increase public demand for culturally diverse audiovisual content.

A first call for proposals for MEDIA Mundus projects is likely to be published on the MEDIA website in the second half of 2010.

I believe the MEDIA Mundus programme could be a good opportunity to finance some very specific projects in line with certain actions of your Cairo resolution. For instance, specifically designed projects could be eligible when it comes to

  • training projects in new technologies

  • the distribution of Mediterranean content in Europe and European content in the Mediterranean

  • A possible co-production meeting on Mediterranean films projects.

I would therefore invite you to contact my team directly to help you design such projects.

As examples of projects involving the Mediterranean and supported by this programme, let me give you three concrete examples

  • In 2009, the EuroCineMed project supported film festivals in Europe and the Mediterranean to promote films from both regions. The Festivals took place in Poland, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Israel and Egypt.

  • Europa Cinemas International supports local cinema operators to encourage screenings of European films in third countries and, conversely, of third–country films in Europe. In the Southern Mediterranean, the network currently comprises cinemas from Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia.

  • Finally, I would like to mention the Beyond Borders project; a training programme for producers from Europe and Africa – including the Maghreb. This project involves organisations from Ireland, Tunisia, Luxemburg, Burkina Faso and France.

Dear Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Few things can represent modernity as fully as the words, sounds and images that surround us in our everyday lives.

Promoting the audiovisual sector is an effort projected towards the future like no other.

The peoples of the Mediterranean have exchanged their stories, images, and artefacts for a very long time. We could even say that these exchanges have written the history of our region and of the world.

In his wanderings, Odysseus travelled to places that can be found in today’s Bulgaria, Lybia, Malta and to many others. To him, the really serious border was traced by the Ηράκλειες Στήλες – the Pillars of Hercules – The entirety of the Mediterranean was home to Odysseus; not always welcoming – as we know – but he did not see any line dividing it in two.

Let's draw inspiration from our old stories as we strive to build a seamless space in the Mediterranean for the words, sounds and images of today and tomorrow

Thank you.


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