Displaying items by tag: COVID19

Sunday, 29 November 2020 21:39

Update on the EU’s pandemic recovery package

The main element of the EU’s Recovery Plan (NextGenerationEU) is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (€672.5 billion), which is made up of loans and grants that will be given to Member States to mitigate the pandemic’s impact and to help build more sustainable and resilient economies and societies. Member States are in the process of designing their draft recovery and resilience plans, which have to be submitted to the European Commission by April 2021 in order to obtain funds.

The €750 billion NextGenerationEU instrument together with the €1.074 trillion seven-year EU budget (for the period 2021-2027) amount to a total package of over €1.8 trillion. This was agreed by EU leaders last July. Although the European Parliament called for more money to be made available for programmes in areas like research and health, in November it agreed with the German rotating presidency of the Council of the EU on an extra €15 billion for these purposes, thus settling the final details of the recovery plan. The different parts of the package now have to be endorsed by the Parliament and the Member States.

Tourism ManifestoIn its latest statement, the European Tourism Manifesto (an alliance of travel and tourism organisations in Europe, among them EBI) has put together a list of concrete investment ideas for Member States to adopt as part of their national recovery and investment plans. These ideas are aimed at enabling travel and tourism to generate jobs and growth and to contribute to the green and digital transitions, in line with EU policy objectives. The tourism sector, which accounts for more than 9.5% of the GDP and provides jobs to 22.6 million people has been one of the worst hit sectors during the crisis, must use the opportunity offered by the upcoming Recovery and Resilience Facility not only to mitigate the pandemic’s impacts, but also to move towards sustainability and digitalisation.

The document lists a number of ideas, dividing them across seven categories: power up, renovate, recharge and refuel, connect, modernise, scale up, and reskill and upskill. Proposals cover a wide range of areas, from building greener tourism infrastructure, to financing research for the development of smart tourism data, or supporting businesses to upskill their workforce. The document also points out the multiplier effect of tourism and explains how investing in the tourism industry helps advance the objectives of the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

In particular, the statement contains a number of proposals specifically geared towards nautical tourism. These include funding for the renovation, digitalisation and environmental transformation of marinas, the rolling out of eco-mooring solutions, funding to encourage consumers to retrofit old boats with newer engines, and funding for research, development and implementation of alternative sustainable fuels for recreational engines.

The document is nonetheless of a temporary nature, since a more elaborate list of investment ideas will be published by the European Tourism Manifesto towards the end of the year. The current document can be found here.

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On 14 October, EBI had the pleasure of participating in an online meeting organised by the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas (SEARICA). The meeting, titled “Maritime Industries: recovering from the COVID-19 crisis and building a strong renewal strategy”, brought together representatives from the EU institutions and from different maritime industries to discuss the impacts of the crisis and present the needs of the maritime sector.

EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill, who presented the interests of the recreational boating industry, pointed out that the crisis has had an impact on tourism, thereby affecting marinas, charter companies and boatbuilders. He also noted the positive effect resulting from some consumers resorting to recreational boating as an outdoor recreation and tourism option that enables social distancing. He then presented the priorities for the industry, which include:

  • Recognition and support for the industry’s investment needs within EU and national funding schemes
  • Funding for the development of nautical and marina infrastructure (such as berths, environmental sustainability and digitalisation)
  • Research, development and innovation targeted towards low-emission boating (such as electric and hybrid engines, biofuels, and new materials)
  • Improved differentiation between the investment needs of recreational boating and maritime transport

MEP Tonino Picula and MEP Petros Kokkalis (Chair and Vice-Chair of SEARICA, respectively) introduced the event, stressing the importance of maritime industries, not least in the context of the European Green Deal. On behalf of the Commission, Felix Leinemann (Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) explained how the EU has been helping the maritime sector and pointed out the relevance of the blue economy to the European Green Deal, while Magda Kopczynska (from the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport) highlighted the importance of financial aid and stressed her reassurance that maritime industries would be at the forefront of the greening and digitalisation of the economy. Other speakers included representatives from the shipbuilding, renewable energy and port sectors, among others.

Through a Council Recommendation issued on 13 October, Member States agreed to coordinate their approaches to restricting travel as part of their COVD-19 measures. Until now, national measures on cross-border movement were not coordinated. This Recommendation puts in place common criteria to give a degree of transparency and predictability to future restrictions; however, the Recommendation is not legally binding.

Firstly, when deciding whether to restrict movement, Member States will consider three criteria: the notification rate (the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100 000 people in the last 14 days, at regional level), the test positivity rate (the percentage of positive tests among all COVID-19 tests carried out in the last week) and the testing rate (the number of COVID-19 tests per 100 000 people carried out during the last week).

Secondly, based on these criteria, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will publish an EU map indicating the risks present in different regions, using the traffic light colour codes: regions will be either green, orange or red (or grey where there is insufficient information). The map is to be displayed on the ‘Re-open EU’ website (here), along with information on the measures that can be expected in each destination.

Furthermore, Member States have agreed to implement no restrictions on people travelling from green regions, while the measures to be taken (COVID-19 tests and/or quarantines) for people coming from red, orange and grey regions remains the decision of each Member State. This information is to be made available on the ‘Re-open EU’ website. In addition, travellers whose functions are considered essential will not be obliged to quarantine (this includes workers exercising critical occupations, transport workers, or persons travelling for imperative family or business reasons, among others).

Travel for business reasons specifically includes “attendance to Trade Fairs and Exhibitions”. Possible evidence to prove this is also stated: exhibitor contracts with – or admission to – a Trade Fair, invitation from a firm or an authority to attend meeting/conferences or events connected with trade, industry or services, invitations, entry tickets, and others. For the full list, please click here.

Tourism ManifestoIf it is not in the plan, it is not in the budget: the European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector of which EBI is a leading member, urges European Union Member States to make tourism a strategic element in their national recovery plans in order to harness the potential of the sector to generate jobs and growth, and to reap the benefits from green and digital transitions.

According to the European Commission’s Communication ‘Europe's moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation’[1], travel and tourism is one of the most affected ecosystems by the COVID-19 and requires € 161 billion[2] worth of investment to bounce back to pre-crisis levels. The new Recovery and Resilience Facility[3], proposed by the Commission to help the EU rebuild after the pandemic, offers an unprecedented opportunity to support tourism and ensure that the sector helps to drive digital and green transitions, and thereby strengthens both economic and social resilience.

The aim of the Recovery and Resilience Facility is to provide large-scale financial support for reforms and investments undertaken by Member States, to mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic, making the EU’s economies more sustainable and resilient. In order to benefit from this unprecedented funding opportunity, Member States must submit to the Commission as from 15 October 2020 (until April 2021) their draft recovery and resilience plans outlining national investment and reform agendas in line with the twin strategic objectives: digitalisation and sustainability.

Tourism must be firmly incorporated in the recovery and resilience plans. Meanwhile the sector needs continued support to survive and help to drive recovery. Tourism is micro/SME dominated, a composition on which Europe’s distinctiveness and appeal as a destination depends. Smaller businesses always return employment to the economy faster than larger corporations: access to short-term funding means long-term job generation. The sector accounts for 9.5% of the EU’s GDP, provides jobs to 22.6 million people[4] and has a direct impact on transport, retail, agri-food industry, and the wider economy. According to UNWTO[5], Europe saw a 66% decline in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020 and WTTC estimates[6] that the region risks losing 29.5 million of travel and tourism jobs (80% of 2019) and losing 1,442 billion EUR in travel and tourism GDP (80% of 2019) due to the COVID-19.

The European economy and social wellbeing are clearly in danger if we do not take urgent action in building and financing the recovery of the travel and tourism sector: 1 EUR of value generated by tourism results in an additional 56 cent of added value in indirect effect on other industries[7]. Investing in tourism will provide long-term benefit to communities, visitors and business throughout Europe.

With appropriate support, tourism can be one of the most effective engines to deliver sustainable development: it supports employment across all areas and demographics, contributes to well-being, and generates revenue needed to preserve community identity, culture and heritage. It is also one of our best exports.

Tourism is transversal and its long value chain touches upon multiple sub-sectors. A healthy travel and tourism ecosystem can help achieve all four general objectives of the Recovery and Resilience Facility: promote the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion, strengthen the Union’s resilience, mitigate the impact of the crisis and support green and digital transitions.

It is therefore essential that impact on the travel and tourism ecosystem is an evaluation criterion for all major components of Recovery and Resilience plans. The multiplier effect of smart investment which also benefits tourism is highly significant. The European Tourism Manifesto alliance is ready to help Member States in drafting their Recovery plans to ensure that the proposed reforms and investments create a favourable environment in which tourism can develop in a sustainable and resilient way, and continue to create jobs, fostering cohesion and building the path towards a sustainable recovery from the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the European Tourism Manifesto

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance gathers more than 60 European public and private organisations, covering the whole tourism value chain and beyond. The alliance calls on the European Union for action on key policy priorities for the tourism sector. For more information, please visit tourismmanifesto.eu.
The Secretariat and Chairmanship of the alliance are currently held by the European Travel Commission (ETC). For any enquiries, please contact us via https://tourismmanifesto.eu/contact/.

1 Communication from the European Commission ‘Europe's moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation’, 27th May 2020 -https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-europe-moment-repair-prepare-next-generation.pdf
2 Commission Staff Working Document ‘Identifying Europe's recovery needs’, accompanying the document Communication from the European Commission ‘Europe's moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation’, 27th May 2020 -
https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/economy-finance/assessment_of_economic_and_investment_needs.pdf
3 Commission presents next steps for €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility in 2021 Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, 17th September 2020 - https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_20_1659
4 WTTC, EU 2020 ANNUAL RESEARCH: KEY HIGHLIGHTS (2019 data) - https://wttc.org/Research/Economic-Impact
5 UNWTO, World Tourism Barometer, August/September 2020 - https://www.unwto.org/news/international-tourist-numbers-down-65-in-first-half-of-2020-unwto-reports
6 https://wttc.org/News-Article/More-than-197m-Travel-Tourism-jobs-will-be-lost-due-to-prolonged-travel-restrictions
7 Communication from the European Commission ‘Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond’, 13th May 2020 - https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-commission-tourism-transport-2020-and-beyond_en.pdf

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The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector in which EBI is a leading member, calls on Member States to urgently agree on harmonised travel restrictions to help the sector survive the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The statement called on governments to urgently approve the European Commission’s proposal and to:

  • Establish common criteria and thresholds for determining epidemiological risk, including a common colour-coding system to identify risk areas. These criteria should be evaluated on a detailed regional level, considering relevant geographical factors (particularly islands).
  • Implement common measures to put in place upon departure to and return from risk areas. These measures should be determined with sufficient detail and based on scientific evidence (as there is no reason to restrict travel to entire countries if only certain regions are affected), and comprise:
    • Replacing the need for quarantine of travellers with comprehensive cost-effective testing and tracing
    • Avoiding blanket restrictions to free movement by implementing more targeted measures which are limited in geographical scope
    • Avoiding imposing travel restrictions on passengers in transit
    • Agreeing on common rules for requesting pre-travel COVID-19 negative test results where needed
    • Ensuring the interoperability of contact tracing apps in the EU and the harmonization of Passenger Locator Forms based on international standards.
  • Follow a common structured and transparent process to publish clear, comprehensive and timely information about any travel restrictions where these are needed. Information should also be made available on the ‘Re-open EU' web platform.

For the full statement, please click here.

The European Commission adopted a proposal for increased EU coordination and better communication of travel restrictions measures taken by Member States in the context of COVID-19. The Commission’s proposal sets out four areas where Member States should work together: 1) Common criteria, 2) Common colour codes, 3) Common approach for travellers from high-risk areas and 4) Clear and timely information.

The proposal and overall coordination are being discussed by the German Council Presidency and the European Commission with EU Member States. For more information, please click here.

The Commission presented the next steps for the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which will provide funds to EU countries. This will provide a total of €672.5 billion of loans and grants to support investment and reforms across EU countries. Grants worth a total of €312.5 billion will be provided, while the remaining €360 billion will be provided in loans. The Facility is the key recovery instrument at the heart of the Recovery Fund that is aimed at supporting the EU to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

National recovery plans will have to be aligned with the green and digital transitions. Moreover, the reforms and investments will have to respect the ‘do no harm’ principle, and use the EU Taxonomy Regulation. EU countries are requested to include in their plans the following areas:

  1. Power up – The frontloading of future-proof clean technologies and acceleration of the development and use of renewables.
  2. Renovate – The improvement of energy efficiency of public and private buildings.
  3. Recharge and Refuel – The promotion of future-proof clean technologies to accelerate the use of sustainable, accessible and smart transport, charging and refuelling stations and extension of public transport.
  4. Connect – The fast rollout of rapid broadband services to all regions and households, including fiber and 5G networks.
  5. Modernise – The digitalisation of public administration and services, including judicial and healthcare systems.
  6. Scale-up – The increase in European industrial data cloud capacities and the development of the most powerful, cutting edge, and sustainable processors.
  7. Reskill and upskill – The adaptation of education systems to support digital skills and educational and vocational training for all ages.

The Commission has called on the European Parliament and Council of the EU to agree as soon as possible on the legislative proposal to make the funding operational from January 2021. Once approved, Member States will have time until end-April 2021 to submit their draft plans. The announcement also includes a break-down by country on the grant allocation (see here).

For more information, please click here.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an official advisory body of the European Union, published its opinion on “Transport and Tourism in 2020 and beyond”. It recommends policy measures to help the boating and nautical tourism sector in its recovery and return to growth after COVID-19. The opinion was adopted by the plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 18th September with a majority of 217- 2. The body, representing employers, workers and civil society forms an integral part of the EU’s decision-making process through its recommendations.

Led by rapporteur Panagiotis Gkofas, the opinion calls for measures to support the tourism and transport sector survive and recover from the impact of COVID-19. This includes calls for a harmonised approach to travel restrictions, a strategic plan to implement economic, tax relief and other support measures for businesses. The opinion also includes several measures specific for the boating and nautical tourism industry that EBI has been calling for.

  • Recognition and support to tourism sectors offering non-mass and outdoor tourism, such as nautical tourism, to speed up recovery of the wider tourism sector and protect jobs
  • Support and promotion of international trade opportunities for sectors connected to tourism that have been impacted by COVID-19, such as boat-building
  • Changes to the EU VAT Directive allowing a reduced VAT rate to be applied for boat charter and marinas at national level
  • Funding for the environmental and digital transformation of tourism and its infrastructure
  • Development of cross-border routes for nautical tourism and funding for tourism marketing
  • Public funding and guidelines for the safe organisation of trade fairs
  • Comprehensive approach for skills and qualifications and mutual recognition of licences for skippers of small commercial vessels

Commenting on the EESC opinion, EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill said “We are delighted to receive such a positive endorsement and push by the European Economic and Social Committee for the tourism sector and nautical tourism sector in particular. The exchange that we have had with the EESC in advance of this opinion is an example of how crucial the dialogue between industry and policy-makers is at this time. It helps develop suitable policy measures to support companies, protect jobs and those regions reliant on the boating industry. We call on the EU institutions and EU countries to follow the recommendations and put the sector on track for a strong recovery in 2020 and beyond.”

The opinion can be found in full here (also in other languages).

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an official advisory body of the European Union, published its opinion on Transport and Tourism in 2020 and beyond. It recommends policy measures to help the boating and nautical tourism sector in its recovery and return to growth after COVID-19.

The opinion was adopted by the plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 18th September with a majority of 217- 2 . The body, representing employers, workers and civil society forms an integral part of the EU’s decision-making process through its recommendations.

Led by rapporteur Panagiotis Gkofas, the opinion calls for measures to support the tourism and transport sector survive and recover from the impact of COVID-19. This includes calls for a harmonised approach to travel restrictions, a strategic plan to implement economic and other support measures and tax relief for businesses. The opinion also includes several measures specific for the boating and nautical tourism industry that EBI has been calling for.

  • Recognition and support to tourism sectors offering non-mass and outdoor tourism, such as nautical tourism, to speed up recovery of the wider tourism sector and protect jobs
  • Support and promotion of international trade opportunities for sectors connected to tourism that have been impacted by COVID-19, such as boat-building 
  • Changes to the EU VAT Directive allowing a reduced VAT rate to be applied for boat charter and marinas at national level
  • Funding for the environmental and digital transformation of tourism and its infrastructure
  • Development of cross-border routes for nautical tourism and funding for tourism marketing
  • Public funding and guidelines for the safe organisation of trade fairs
  • Comprehensive approach for skills and qualifications and mutual recognition of licences for skippers of small commercial vessels

Commenting on the EESC opinion, EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill said “We are delighted to receive such a positive endorsement and push by the European Economic and Social Committee for the tourism sector and nautical tourism sector in particular. The exchange that we have had with the EESC in advance of this opinion is an example of how crucial the dialogue between industry and policy-makers is at this time. It helps develop suitable policy measures to support companies, protect jobs and those regions reliant on the boating industry. We call on the EU institutions and EU countries to follow the recommendations and put the sector on track for a strong recovery in 2020 and beyond.”

Published in Latest News
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