The European Commission published its Spring economic forecast on 6 May, the first one to fully consider the impact of COVID-19. It provides a forecast at European level, for EU countries, candidate countries and certain other non-EU countries. It concludes that the impact of COVID-19 will affect all countries, even if at different levels. The same is the case for the speed of the recovery expected in 2021. Below the key indicators for the EU and Euro area.
The forecast is based on a set of assumptions about the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic and containment measures. It assumes that restrictions will be gradually lifted from May. The full forecast and country-specific information can be found here.
European Boating Industry (EBI) joined a strategic dialogue with EU Commissioner for Industry and Internal Market Thierry Breton on the recovery of the maritime sector following COVID-19. EBI presented the impacts of COVID-19 on the recreational boating industry and the opportunities to lift the sector from the crisis through measures at EU level. The other maritime sector stakeholders represented were ship builders, maritime equipment producers and ship owners.
The meeting allowed EBI to present the recreational boating industry at the highest political level of the European Commission. EBI raised the strategic importance of Europe as the number one region for the production and export of recreational boats and nautical tourism. The sector offers a success story of European manufacturing with several industrial champions and a vibrant tourism sector. The entire industry consists of 32,000 companies of which the majority are SMEs and employs 280,000 people.
The meeting came on day after the European Commission presented its long-awaited proposal for the EU recovery plan with an unprecedented €750 billion recovery fund. It identified the tourism and maritime mobility sector as key areas for investment by the EU and Member States in the recovery period. During the meeting, Commissioner Breton highlighted the importance of the maritime industry ecosystem for Europe’s economy and recovery after the COVID-19 crisis. In his view, the industry has a crucial role to play for a digital and green recovery where public investment will play a substantial role.
EBI echoed the calls first made in the joint policy paper of 20 boating industry associations in Europe in mid-April (see here). This consists of a coordinated opening of borders for travellers, navigation, supply chains and tourism in the short-term under strict health and safety conditions. This needs to be followed up by stimulating consumer demand through promotion of European tourism. Furthermore, the EU’s Recovery Plan should play a strong role in investment and focus on the environmental and digital transformation of the boating industry.
The other participants in the meeting represented ship builders (SEA Europe, Fincantieri, Meyer Werft), maritime equipment manufacturers (ECA Group) and ship owners (Vroon Group).
On 13 May the European Commission presented a package of measures to support the tourism industry in the COVID-19 crisis and start the summer season (see here). It encourages consumers to take advantage of the summer tourism season and help the EU tourism sector recover. It includes an overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond, a gradual lifting of border restrictions, re-establishment of transport links, criteria for restoring tourism activities and health protocols, as well as a recommendation on vouchers as alternatives to reimbursement . These guidelines and recommendations are provided to EU countries and companies for implementation.
Throughout these measures, the Commission recognises the importance of on-water recreation, and the maritime and inland waterway tourism industry. At several points, it highlights that leisure boating should not fall under a general prohibition but be allowed following a risk-based approach and implementing specific procedures, such as regular cleaning and disinfection. EU countries should lift restrictions for leisure boating based on specific health and safety protocols. The Commission specifically mentions marinas and resuming activity in these under strict health and safety conditions. The Commission recognises that domestic and intra-EU tourism will be increasingly popular and should be promoted. It sees a strong role for maritime and inland waterway tourism in this.
The announcement from the European Commission comes after many weeks of advocacy activities and dozens of virtual meetings by EBI with the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and other members of the EU institutions. Advocacy actions were based on the joint policy paper that 19 European boating industry associations and EBI signed in early April (see here). This unity has been key to advocacy. Several boating industry associations have also prepared guidelines to facilitate the application of social distancing rules and all applicable health and safety requirements.
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector of which EBI is a member, has issued a statement on the European Commission’s Tourism package. It highlights that the package represents a first and important step to facilitate travel and tourism in Europe, support the sector’s recovery from the crisis and enable a more sustainable tourism ecosystem in the future. It calls for a swift implementation and further measures to ensure that the tourism industry can restart and recover. The full statement can be found here.
The Commission invites interested parties to submit views on the EU’s new adaptation strategy in view of increasingly frequent and intense climate change impacts. As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission aims to put forward a new Adaptation Strategy in early 2021.
A blueprint for the strategy is provided for context, as well as indicate possible directions of development and stimulate the debate. It can be found here. EBI will provide input to the consultation but invites members and interested parties to provide specific feedback they may have. The online consultation is open until 20 August 2020 and can be found here.
Deadline: 31 July 2020
The programme offers an exclusive coaching programme for high potential start-ups and SMEs with innovative and sustainable products and solutions for the Blue Economy. Businesses and projects selected for Investment Readiness Assistance will receive coaching packages tailored specifically to their readiness levels and business objectives. The programme is impact-driven, with a clear focus on providing business support to help start-ups and SMEs build capacities for growth and attract investment.
More information and how to apply can be found here.
Deadline: 17 September 2020
Funded under: EEA Grants
The Programme will finance projects proposed by Romanian enterprises in blue growth. The aim is to finance development and application of innovative blue technologies/products, processes and solutions. Projects are also expected to contribute to the development and application of innovative technologies, processes and solutions, as well as reduction of CO2 emissions and more energy efficient production processes. Within Blue Growth, eligible activities are the development and investment in maritime supra-structures, coastal and maritime tourism, innovative solutions related to marine litter and waste, as well as water supply and desalination. For more information and how to apply click here.
Deadline: 3 September 2020
Funded under: Horizon 2020
The specific challenge is to substitute fossil-based compounds in coatings with bio-based alternatives, while ensuring that the performance of the coating is at least identical to the traditional coating. Coatings are widely used in many applications, such as in glass, concrete, metal and furniture. Depending on the specific performance required by the intended applications, coatings must serve different purposes. These purposes include preventing reflectivity, self-cleaning, protection, waterproofing, fire resistance, anti-corrosion, insulation and anti-fouling. Because of this diverse and expanding range of requirements, people increasingly demand sustainable coatings. As part of this development, producers are introducing bio-based alternatives in coating formulations, replacing fossil-based compounds.
For more information and how to apply, click here.
The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The 2020 calls for proposal were now issued for the environment and climate action sub-programmes. Specific measures were taken to take into account the COVID-19 outbreak, including a one-month extension of deadlines. For the full information and application information, please click here.