The General Court of the European Union has stated 265 million euro in funding provided by the Generalitat Valenciana towards the construction of Alicante´s film studios, the Ciudad de la Luz, was granted illegally and therefore must now be recovered.
The ruling confirmed the previous decision of the European Commission, which ordered the repayment of subsidies in May 2012, also dismissing any claims made by the Valencia government.
The initial investigation came about after Pinewood Studios in London complained that the Alicante based studio infringed competition criteria. That investigation concluded that “no private investor would have agreed to invest” in the Ciudad de la Luz under the same terms as those set about by the Valencian Government and funded by public money, which therefore “greatly distorts competition between the major European film studios”.
In its application, the Commission alleged that Spain had misapplied the private investor criterion and exceeded the margin of appreciation. In addition, it was wrong in assessing the funding through state aid because they took into account performances in a tertiary resort area. The appeal denounced the lack of motivation of the decision, ordering the recovery of aid to film producers and lack of reason to hold that investment was not of a cultural purpose.
However, the Generalitat Valenciana own the facility which it subsidized, and so the only real outcome will be to sell the studios, hopefully recovering the money, although opposition political figures claim that the market value of the facility is far lower than the amount required.
Socialist deputy in the Valencia parliament, Eva Martínez, has subsequently asked the question, “Who is going to take political responsibility for this scandal? Who is going to resign?” Whilst other political oppositions echoed the sentiment, with the Deputy for Compromís, Mireia Mollà, commenting that the “Valencian PP has been the most disastrous manager known in the history of this country”, basing their comments on years of over investment and waste that almost crippled the region, led to huge debts, and a legacy of many lavish buildings, some of which stand dormant and empty to this day.
For his part, spokesperson for the government, Alberto Fabra, gave a surprise statement that the ruling was “somewhat expected”, rather than defending the Partido Popular team he leads, whilst insisting that the market value of the facilities can cover the amount due.
The studio facility where such hit films as Asterix, Prometheus, My Life in Ruins and The Impossible were shot, filed for bankruptcy in early 2012, with debts of hundreds of millions of euro.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44156/