I am very pleased to see that we largely agree on the main elements of 'Creative Europe'. I am particularly happy that the Council supports the Commission's proposal to bring together the current funding programmes in the cultural and creative sector. I believe this will help create an open and transparent gateway that will encourage transnational cooperation.
I consider that the intrinsic value of culture and its important contribution to growth and jobs are not mutually exclusive. Our proposed programme is designed to contribute to both the economic and social objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
Indeed, the programme is all about creating the best environment for artists and their work to circulate across borders and, by doing this, to enhance cultural and linguistic diversity. I thank the Danish Presidency for their useful clarifications on this important aspect.
I have listened to a lively debate on the Commission's proposal for a new financial facility that will help small cultural operators to obtain credit. We will carefully analyse all the arguments and discuss them with the stakeholders.
The concerns of some Member States about our grants going mainly to big operators are not valid. Today, no less than 55% of EU funding under the current Culture Programme goes to SMEs with fewer than 11 employees. This will continue under the new programme.
We share the point made by many about the need for a geographical balance between small and big, and old and new Member States, and that is precisely why we need to create awareness about the new facility, and also transmit the necessary expertise to banks to encourage them to be involved.
The loan guarantee facility will be complementary to the grants that the EU offers; we have no intention to replace grants. Our proposal responds to a clear need, expressed by SMEs, who find it difficult to obtain credit.
It is true that the EU offers other financial facilities for SMEs in general, but until now no cultural and creative SMEs have benefitted from them. This underlines the fact that the cultural and creative industries have specific needs, to which many banks are not currently able to respond.
The MEDIA Production Guarantee Facility is already working rather well in the audiovisual sector, and the success of the model has encouraged us now to meet the needs of the whole range of cultural and creative SMEs.