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Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
MEDIA and Creative Europe, part of Europe's soul
European Film Awards Welcome Reception /Berlin
6 December 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very happy to be with you this evening, here at the French Embassy. This historic location is a fitting venue for us all to begin our celebration of European Film.
And I am delighted to be joined by his Excellency, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Ambassador of France to Germany.
I would like to thank the Ambassador as well as the European Film Academy and the MEDIA Desks and Antennae Germany for hosting tonight's reception.
Every year, Europeans produce a great wealth of new films with the potential to capture the imagination of audiences across the world. We must do all we can to bring this wonderful diversity of European cinema to the widest audience possible.
Failing to do this would leave many people unaware of the extraordinary stories and talents that exist throughout Europe, and they would miss out on a whole world of adventure and emotion.
Films open up new lives and worlds to us. And in the globalising world that we live in today, we urgently need to understand one another and appreciate better our different origins. This is why the European Film Awards play such an important role, paying tribute to all those who work so hard in the industry to bring these stories to us.
Film is an essential part of who we are. It is part of Europe's identity. It is a language that captures the magical complexity of human life; it is a language that we all understand.
And therefore I am very happy that cinema remains at the heart of Europe's cultural policy and financial support, with the EU's new Creative Europe programme.
Two weeks ago, a massive majority in the European Parliament voted for the programme, and yesterday the EU's Member States gave their own endorsement. Now, it only remains for us to launch the programme on the first of January.
Building on the success of the MEDIA and Culture programmes, Creative Europe will open up new international opportunities, new markets and new audiences for the cultural and creative industries.
On the one hand, the programme will serve as a "one stop shop" for all of these industries. On the other, it will respect the varying needs of the cultural and audiovisual sectors. The MEDIA brand – a European success story – will continue.
The new Guarantee Facility for the Cultural and Creative Sector will complement our traditional support based on grants. Our goal is to give European operators easier access to finance.
A recent Eurobarometer survey shows that people's participation in most cultural activities has declined since 2007. In contrast, cinema has resisted the trend, and audiences have risen.
I think we can draw a significant lesson from all of this. Even in the hardest of times, film, literature, art and music remain vital to our lives. They are neither luxuries nor idle pastimes. No, they are part of who we are. Perhaps above all, they are part of Europe's soul.
So, with these words of optimism and hope, I would like to wish you all a very pleasant evening, and I am sure you will enjoy the 26th European Film Awards.