British films going head to head with Hollywood blockbusters in the Oscars ceremony have received millions of pounds of European Union subsidies, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
Overall, the EU’s Creative Europe programme helped to fund films which have received 22 nominations for this year’s Academy Awards. British films account for half the EU-backed Oscar contenders, including Carol, Amy and Shaun the Sheep Movie. Overall, the UK has the most Oscar nominations of any country outside the US.
The shadow Culture Secretary, Maria Eagle, said the EU was “vital” to Britain’s movie success story in the latest of a series of increasingly contentious claims and counterclaims over the threat posed to the UK economy by leaving the European Union.
On 26 February, the illustrator of the popular children’s books The Gruffalo said the character would not have existed without the EU. Axel Scheffler said he would not have drawn the Gruffalo if he had not left his native Germany to come to the UK.
The claims have caused accusations that the “Remain” campaign is engaged in “project fear” to scare voters into voting to remain in the EU in the referendum on 23 June.
The Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, is one of six government ministers campaigning to leave the EU. Labour said his position made it impossible for him to stand up for UK film.
Past British films that received EU financial support and achieved Oscar success include Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Iron Lady. British films in receipt of EU support have won a total of 14 Oscars and 41 nominations since 2007.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, Ms Eagle said: “EU funding provides vital support to the UK’s film industry, which has been essential for a number of films flying the flag for Britain at this weekend’s Oscars ceremony.
“It is clear that walking away from the European Union would be harmful to the UK’s thriving film industry, which has been a real success story.
“The Culture Secretary is letting down British cinema. He must now explain how he will make up any shortfall in funding and support to the British film industry, should the UK leave the EU as he would wish.”
But a spokesman for Vote Leave responded: “There’s no such thing as EU funding. It’s British taxpayers’ money which has been through the cogs in Brussels and handed back to the UK by the EU with strings attached.”