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Document 52004AE1201

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on film heritage and the competitiveness of related industrial activities’COM(2004) 171 final - 2004/0066 (COD)

OJ C 74, 23.3.2005, p. 18–20 (ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, NL, PL, PT, SK, SL, FI, SV)
OJ C 74, 23.3.2005, p. 4–6 (MT)



Official Journal of the European Union

C 74/18

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on film heritage and the competitiveness of related industrial activities’

COM(2004) 171 final - 2004/0066 (COD)

(2005/C 74/04)

On 26 March 2004 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 157 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the abovementioned proposal.

The Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 8 July 2004. The rapporteur was Mr Braghin.

At its 411th plenary session (meeting of 15 September 2004), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 129 votes to three with six abstentions.

1.   Introduction


The Commission document is divided into two parts: a communication on the extension up to 30 June 2007 of the specific compatibility criteria, valid until June 2004, for aid to cinema and TV programme production; and a recommendation on film heritage and the competitiveness of related industrial activities.


The recommendation focuses on all aspects of film heritage (collection, cataloguing, creation of databases, conservation, restoration, use for educational, academic, research and cultural purposes, and cooperation between the institutions responsible at European level) and examines legal deposit of cinematographic works as a means of conserving and safeguarding the European audiovisual heritage. The Committee has been asked to draw up an opinion on this document.


Only the recommendation has been referred to the Committee for an opinion. Regarding the communication, the EESC welcomes the approach adopted by the Commission, which declares itself ‘willing to consider, at the latest at the time of the next review of the communication, higher aid amounts being made available provided that the aid schemes comply with the conditions of general legality under the Treaty and, in particular, that barriers to the free circulation of workers, goods and services across the EC in this sector are reduced’. The EESC intends to analyse the results of the study on the effects of the current systems of state aid for the sector in order to evaluate the economic and cultural impact and judge whether the present mechanisms are effective or if different mechanisms and instruments need to be sought.

2.   General comments


The EESC agrees with the statement that the conditions for the competitiveness of industrial activities related to film heritage need to be improved, especially as regards the use of technologies such as digitisation. The legal basis of the recommendation, Article 157 of the EC Treaty, flows from this.


The EESC agrees with this legal basis since it enables the objectives of effective cooperation between Member States to be achieved, and broadens public debate on a matter of great cultural importance.


The EESC also hopes that the Commission will carry out a detailed analysis of the information required of the Member States every two years on the provisions adopted in response to the present recommendation, and will assess which measures, including legislative ones, are most likely to achieve the cooperation and coordination needed to ensure that the audiovisual heritage is effectively protected and its economic potential realised.


The EESC agrees that transfer of the possession of cinematographic works to archiving bodies does not imply transferring copyright and related rights. However, under the terms of Directive 2001/29/EC (1), the Member States may provide for an exception or limitation in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries or by archives which are not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage. The EESC also supports the recommendation to permit the reproduction of deposited cinematographic works for the purpose of restoration (recommendation no. 9).


The legal issues arising from copyright and specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries or archives, as well as from reproduction for the purpose of restoration, must be addressed and resolved urgently. The EESC suggests that an explicit mandate on this matter be given to a high-level group of experts, possibly by making the necessary adjustments to the network of national experts who have already been consulted.


The EESC would like to see a shorter period between films being made available to the public and the obligation of deposit, and arrangements to facilitate the deposit of cinematographic and audiovisual works which formed part of the national audiovisual heritage before the introduction of compulsory deposit, as set out in the recommendation.


The EESC believes that cinematographic and audiovisual works are simultaneously industrial and cultural products which should be safeguarded as part of the shared European heritage, promoted as a factor contributing to pluralism and whose economic potential should be realised. In consequence, certain types of television programme produced by national broadcasters should also be subject to compulsory, rather than voluntary, deposit, since they reflect the fluid, dynamic nature of current social and cultural life more immediately than cinematographic works. Although the EESC is aware that broadcasters have not supported the idea of obligatory deposit, it calls upon the Commission to study this issue more closely in order to assess whether at least those television programmes of the greatest socio-cultural importance should be subject to compulsory deposit on the grounds that they form part of the audiovisual cultural heritage.


The EESC agrees with the view that the cinematographic industry has great potential for creating employment, including in the area of cinematographic heritage protection. This applies all the more to the broader audiovisual sector, in view of the vast range of media and broadcasting means and huge potential offered by digital technology. It therefore hopes that every type of support will be extended to cover all audiovisual works, with a sharper focus on the competitiveness of the sector in all its various forms, and that training possibilities will not be restricted to, or focus principally on, the film sector, but will rather cover the audiovisual sector in its broadest definition.


The EESC agrees with the Commission on the need for voluntary deposit of ancillary and publicity material, moving image material and cinematographic works of the past insofar as they contribute significantly to the European audiovisual heritage. It emphasises the need to devise suitable incentives for the collection of such material, and to provide the relevant bodies with the funds they need to build up, reasonably quickly, a systematic body of material witnessing to the wealth of cultural identities in Europe and the diversity of its people.

3.   Conclusions


The EESC is convinced that if the main objectives set are to be achieved, the Commission must immediately assume a proactive role matching its intentions as expressed in its document, and, more specifically:

define deposit procedures enabling national systems to be interconnected and interoperable, promoting European standardisation of cataloguing;

provide the technical and legal preconditions for adequately protected on-line deposits which can be updated in real time and which might, in the future, give rise to a ‘European’ database;

propose a Europe-wide standard contract between designated bodies, depositors and possibly copyright holders, in keeping with Directive 2001/29/EC, facilitating restoration of works and their subsequent availability for research and teaching purposes;

define criteria for making deposited works accessible to the public, in cooperation with the relevant bodies;

uphold cooperation between national and/or regional bodies, partly through specific structures and financing, if necessary;

support benchmarking of best practice and monitor progress through the planned reports.


The EESC also considers that the Commission, while complying with the subsidiarity principle, should play an active part in supporting the sector with sufficient financial and human resources in order to achieve the following objectives:

compiling of a European audiovisual filmography and joint production of educational and research projects, since voluntary cooperation is unlikely to produce satisfactory results given the widely differing resources and cultural traditions in the 25 Member States;

deposits to include past works from the new Member States, who produce many films testifying to their history, culture, way of life and customs which could be lost, but who have only modest financial resources for this purpose;

establishment of a structure aimed at harnessing the funds available in national and/or regional bodies, encouraging distribution throughout Europe and the world through the most up-to-date multimedia methods (e.g. DVDs using archive material with subtitles in several European languages, potentially making even past works profitable), especially for works relating to Community topics or policies (such as child protection or the image of women), or to particular traditions (e.g. animated films, children's films or documentaries);

showcasing of works presented at regional or local theme-based festivals, in order to foster independent production by directors working outside the commercial mainstream, by means of obligatory deposit where appropriate;

training in conservation and restoration, which require a high level of professionalism and use of new techniques, supporting such training with adequate Community funding, preferably under MEDIA Training, currently being renewed.


The EESC also hopes that the on-going discussions on the new MEDIA Training programme will take greater account of training in the new technologies and new requirements arising from the collection, cataloguing, conservation and restoration of film and television works and moving image material in general. In particular, there should be an expansion of training in use and awareness of new archiving techniques and methods, database management and standardised methods for saving works in high-quality digital format, with refresher courses for operators so that the results can be enjoyed by a wider public, especially students and teachers.

Brussels, 15 September 2004.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee


(1)  Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, in OJ L 167 of 22.6.2001.