SNP Highlight Scotland's Potential In Europe's Film Industry

25 October 2005
"Cruelly untapped potential when ample support exists from EU side"

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has highlighted the vast potential of Scotland's audiovisual sector, and the high levels of support available from the European Union to film projects in Scotland.

Mr Smith was speaking in a debate in Strasbourg on the MEDIA2007 programme which will channel European financial support for the film industry in the EU. The Parliament has, by a massive majority, called for the budget to be increased to just over a billion euro over the five year period 2007-2013. An evaluation of previous programmes found that for every euro of public money 5.75 euro were generated in follow up investments, 2.83 euro in education, 7.2euro in distribution and 4.19 euro in further development.

Speaking after the debate Mr Smith said:

"I was lucky enough to spend a day on a film set in Glasgow over the summer, and it is clear that we have a vast pool of talent in Scotland. Sadly, much of that talent has to leave Scotland, albeit often temporarily, to find work, when in the global economy if we get our act together the work could be coming to us.

"I was pleased to see that the Parliament has backed the report which calls for an added emphasis on EU support for films, as this is an area where real added value has been provided by the EU involvement.

"I want to see a much greater degree of support for the industry in Scotland, building upon the work done by Scottish Screen, Scottish Enterprise and others to make Scotland a natural hub for film production. This could be worth billions to the Scottish economy, and we have seen that the EU side stands ready to help, the only question is whether the Scottish Executive, short of the actual power to help broadcasting, will be able to find the ambition itself."

Full speech below:

Alyn Smith, on behalf of the SNP Group. - Mr President, I will be no exception in this debate in congratulating our rapporteur on this ambitious report, and I welcome also the Commission's ideas tonight, which, I believe, demonstrate a unity of purpose between our two institutions.

I have a vested interest in this debate: Scotland, as an English-speaking EU member nation, should be - could be - leading the audiovisual sector within Europe in building a bridge to our competitors in the US. Sadly, while ample means of support exists on the EU side, this area remains a cruelly untapped potential for Scotland, as for Europe. Fortunately, the solutions are at our hands.

I believe there is broad agreement in this chamber tonight on the broad policy thrusts, though, for me, the key policy areas are digitisation and distribution, and how the EU side can facilitate internal EU dissemination of our own talent.

Sadly, however, I suspect that, ultimately, the arguments will come down to money and the mean-spirited arguments put forward by my own UK Government. I hope colleagues will unite around this report and send as loud and as clear a message to the Council as we can.