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. Many measures that formed the European boating industry’s joint call that EBI has advocated for, have been taken up. The European Commission recognises on-water recreation and nautical tourism as a key part of Europe’s tourism industry, recovery period and ready to restart following health and safety protocols.
The European Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to gradually open borders and allow tourism businesses to restart while respecting health and safety measures. 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 (Link). 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.
European Boating Industry Secretary-General Philip Easthill commented “We are a fundamentally European industry. Boating relies on open borders between countries for navigation, holiday travel and supply chains. We support the measures announced by the European Commission to gradually reopen borders and swiftly restart nautical tourism and support recovery in our sector. We have been advocating for many of these measures since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so. Taking the European Commission’s risk-based approach, the conditions are in place for boating, boat charter, marinas and its infrastructure to swiftly reopen under strict health and safety rules across Europe."
“When it comes to the introduction of vouchers as alternatives for reimbursement, we urge EU countries to include individual tourism activities in their scope. Nautical tourism activities, such as boat charter, must be a part of this to ensure a level playing field in the tourism industry. National and eventually a European guarantee fund could help protect consumers and support companies’ liquidity at a critical time."
EBI will continue its advocacy to ensure that the boating industry continues to be recognised and address the key issues in the COVID-19 crisis. EBI is also providing resources on the measures taken at EU-level regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. These can be found here.
The full information on the Tourism Package can be found on the website of the European Commission.
Deadline: 31 May 2020
The European Commission aims to collect information on how to make public innovation support for SMEs more effective and efficient. It collects information on the main factors hampering innovation in SMEs, particularly in view of recent technological and market developments, forms of innovation support received, level of satisfaction with the existing support for innovation as well as gaps in innovation support and suggestions for improvement.
Companies in the boating industry are invited to provide input to the survey directly and share this with EBI to potentially provide a further response at European level.
The survey can be found 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.
On 19 April, new rules on the mutual recognition of goods came into force. They aim to make selling products faster, simpler and easier. The new rules come from Regulation 2019/515 that was recently updated. They concern products which are not fully or partially subject to common EU rules, but rather may come under national rules.
The new rules aim to improve the EU’s mutual recognition principle which allows products to move freely within the Single Market if they are lawfully marketed in one EU country. Companies can fill in a voluntary ‘mutual recognition declaration’ which will clearly show competent national authorities that their products are lawfully marketed in another EU country. When companies are denied or restricted market access for their products, they can contest such decisions using the European Commission’s problem-solving network SOLVIT. Product contact points' set up in each Member State will provide information on national technical rules easily accessible online. More information and access to the SOLVIT network can be found here and the national contact points here.
On 10 March 2020, the European Commission presented its strategy in one of its key priority areas: the New Industrial Strategy, SME strategy and several initiatives to improve the functioning of the Single Market. Below is a summary of the key elements of relevance to the recreational boating industry. EBI will be engaging with the EU institutions to ensure inclusion of the boating sector in the implementation of the strategy.
The main objectives of the strategy are to address the environmental transition, which links it to the European Green deal, and digitalisation. It has a high level of ambition to maintain and grow Europe's industrial leadership. A number of initiatives are announced:
The European Commission recognises that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to address the key challenges for Europe and support the New Industrial Strategy. Its dedicated SME strategy is based on three pillars: 1) Support for transition to sustainability and digitalisation, 2) Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access and 3) Access to financing. A number of initiatives are announced:
Action Plan for implementation and enforcement of the Single Market
Based on a separate report on the barriers to the Single Market, the Commission published an action plan to address these and better enforce the Single market. The conclusion from the report for the Commission is that compliance with single market rules is lacking with too many barriers for businesses. The Action Plan focuses primarily on national authorities, but has some relevance to industry. A number of initiatives are announced:
All documents can be found in full here.
The Commission’s proposal for the European Climate Law was published. It aims to legislate for the climate-neutrality goal set out in the European Green Deal. This means achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions for EU countries through cutting emissions, investing in green technologies and protecting the natural environment. The law aims to ensure that all EU policies contribute to this goal and that all sectors of the economy and society are involved. It includes measures to keep track of progress and adjust actions. The Climate Law also includes several actions to achieve the 2050 target:
The full proposal can be found here.
The European Commission released its flagship Industrial Strategy and SME Strategy yesterday. European Boating Industry (EBI) welcomes these and their potential to support the recreational boating industry in Europe to sustainably grow, create employment and further develop the sector’s global leadership and environmental transition.
The European Commission presented its new Industrial Strategy that recognises the value of industry and wants to support them in being “future-ready”. It aims to tackle the challenges of environmental transition, as well as digitalisation. It recognises Europe as the “home of industry” and industry as “central to Europe’s future progress and prosperity”. The strategy announces a number of initiatives to support industry to grow and maintain its leadership.
The European Commission also released its SME strategy at the same time. It aims to support small companies in transitioning to sustainability and digitalisation, as well as addressing regulatory burden and improving access to financing. EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill commented on the announcement “The EU Industrial Strategy is an important step to ensure the long-term growth of Europe’s industry. With over 95% SMEs in the boating industry, we particularly welcome the focus on smaller companies that are the backbone of European industry. We look forward to engaging with the European Commission on shaping the industrial ecosystem in the boating sector and turning this strategy into concrete actions.”
EBI is a member of the Industry4Europe coalition of over 150 industry associations. Launched three years ago, it advocates for an ambitious industrial strategy that helps Europe remain a hub for a leading, smart, innovative and sustainable industry, and that provides quality jobs and benefits all Europeans and future generations. The Coalition published its Joint Paper ‘A long-term strategy for Europe’s industrial future: from words to action’ in which it presented concrete policy proposals.
The EU Member States authorised the opening of negotiations for a new partnership agreement with the UK and formally nominated the Commission as the EU’s negotiator. The negotiations will be led by Michel Barnier.
The aim of the EU in its negotiation mandate is to achieve an ambitious economic partnership with the UK. The mandate emphasises that the partnership should be underpinned by robust commitments to ensure a level playing field for open and fair competition, which will be one of the contentious points in the negotiations. The aim is to establish a free trade agreement with zero tariffs and quotas to trade in goods, as well cooperation on customs and regulatory aspects.
The UK government has likewise released its mandate for the negotiations. Its main aim is a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement covering substantially all trade. It wants to achieve similar provisions as past EU free trade agreements, such as Canada and Japan. The first formal meeting between the EU and the UK negotiators is expected to take place in early March. EBI will be engaging with the EU’s negotiation team to provide input from the European recreational boating sector.
The Winter 2020 Economic Forecast published on 13 February projects that the European economy is set to continue a path of steady, moderate growth. It concludes that the Euro area gross domestic product (GDP) growth will remain stable at 1.2% in 2020 and 2021. For the EU as a whole, growth is forecast to reduce slightly to 1.4% in 2020 and 2021, down from 1.5% in 2019.
The full forecast, including country-by-country reports and assessments of the potential economic risks can be found here.
The BlueInvest Day, organised by the European Commission brought together start-ups and investors in the blue economy. It included pitching opportunities, matchmaking and plenary sessions. The recreational boating industry was showcased in several pitches and represented among the many start-ups participating. EBI led this participation as one the showcase organisations selected by the European Commission and was represented with its own stand.
In the plenary sessions, speakers presented the opportunities for public and private funding for the blue economy. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius highlighted the policy dimension, which follows from the European Green Deal. A key part of this is investment in the blue economy that can help the sector to thrive and combine sustainability with business success. This also offers substantial opportunities for companies in the recreational boating industry.
At the BlueInvest Day, the BlueInvest Fund was launched with €75 million equity by the European Commission and European Investment Bank. It will be managed by the European Investment Fund and will provide financing to equity funds that target and support innovation in the blue economy. The condition for funding is that the activity takes place in the marine environment or using marine resources.
The European Commission's BlueInvest platform supports investment readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. For more information, please consult the BlueInvest Platform here.