European Commission queries video games assistance

The European Commission has (today, Tuesday) launched an investigation into the UK’s proposed help for the video games industry, saying it might distort competition and questioning whether it is necessary to help stimulate the industry.

SNP politicians have called for Scots to respond to the Commission and help protect a growing industry.  MEP Alyn Smith and MSPs Joe FitzPatrick and Mark McDonald are urging Scots to make their voices heard.

Speaking after the move was announced by the Commission, Alyn Smith MEP said:

“The video games industry is an important part of Scotland’s innovation platform.  It might not be the first thing that people think about when they think about industry but it’s growing and contributing to Scottish culture as well as Scotland’s GDP.

“The industry fought hard over a long time, with the support of some politicians, to get the UK Government to accept the need for tax relief for culturally-specific products.  The European Commission’s investigation creates delay and might result in refusal.

“This small measure is just like any other government support for the arts.  I’ll be making representations to the Commission as an MEP and I’m encouraging everyone with an interest to make their own representations.

Joe FitzPatrick MSP, who represents Dundee City West where a substantial number of Scotland’s Video Games companies are located said:

“I have been campaigning for this tax relief for the video games industry because it is absolutely essential to give the games developers a level playing field to compete internationally.

“Tax relief is necessary to support existing jobs and help create new ones, as well as make sure that Scottish companies get a share of the expected growth in the global industry.

“I campaigned alongside TIGA for a long time and was delighted that the UK Government agreed to introduce it. The computer Games industry is important for Dundee and for Scotland.

"We must do all we can to protect it. It would be a bitter blow if this was to be scrapped after the UK Government took so long before dangling this opportunity in front of developers.”

North East MSP Mark McDonald, the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Video Games Technology, said:

“France has a tax relief for its games industry and other cultural enterprises have had tax relief approved by the Commission, I can’t see why they thought they needed to investigate this one.

“I’ll be talking to the games companies and their representatives and encouraging them to get their voice heard.  I see that TIGA has already started the process and I’ll be speaking to Dr Richard Wilson to see what help I can give.

“I’ll be writing to Brussels myself and putting across the case for the Scottish games industry and I’m encouraging everyone else with an interest in Scotland’s video games to do the same.”