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Tourism to Receive Portion of EU Covid-19 Recovery Fund

Tourism may receive 20 to 25 percent of a recovery fund for sectors in the EU most affected by Covid-19, according to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market.

The establishment of the recovery fund – which “is needed and urgent”, as underlined by European Council President Charles Michel – was agreed by EU leaders on April 23.

“This fund shall be of a sufficient magnitude, targeted towards the sectors and geographical parts of Europe most affected, and be dedicated to dealing with this unprecedented crisis,” Michel said after the fourth video conference on Covid-19 held by EU Heads of State or Government.

“We have therefore tasked the Commission to analyse the exact needs and to urgently come up with a proposal that is commensurate with the challenge we are facing. The Commission proposal should clarify the link with the MFF (multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027), which in any event will need to be adjusted to deal with the current crisis and its aftermath,” Michel said.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on April 29, that the coronavirus recovery fund should total around 1.5 trillion euros.

“We need a fund worth about 10 percent of our GDP, that is about 1.5 trillion euros,” Gentiloni told Les Echos daily in an interview.

Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union applauds decision

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Addressing an informal videoconference of EU ministers in charge of tourism, held on April 27, Croatian Minister of tourism, Gari Cappelli, applauded the decision.

“I am particularly pleased that at the meeting of the members of the European Council last week it was agreed upon to establish a Recovery Fund, which will target the hardest hit sectors and geographical parts of Europe. I believe that we are all aware that tourism definitely falls into the category of the most affected sectors in this crisis”, Minister Cappelli stated.

Commissioner Breton: Tourism should be main beneficiary

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Speaking during the videoconference, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, highlighted the need for “unprecedented funds” to overcome the coronavirus crisis.

“There is a need for a ‘new Marshall Plan’, with a powerful EU budget, to jumpstart the path towards European recovery and a stronger and more resilient Union. We will need fast action, pragmatism and creativity to recover and build a resilient and sustainable tourism industry”, stated Commissioner Breton.

EU’s response to tourism must be twofold

On April 21 the commissioner spoke to the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) during a webstreamed debate on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the tourism sector.

Commissioner Breton said that the EU’s response to the tourism sector must be twofold:

“Firstly, in the very short term, we must help these businesses to get through this difficult period, and secondly, in the medium term, but quickly, we will have to start reforming the European tourism sector,” he said, adding that in response to immediate needs, the Commission is working to provide a safety net for the entire sector.

Commissioner Thierry Breton. Photo © European Union (2019) - European Parliament.

Commissioner Thierry Breton. Photo © European Union (2019) – European Parliament.

The Commissioner stated: “Ensuring liquidity is the first priority. But funding must also be provided quickly to bridge this period until tourism flows resume.

The tourism sector must therefore benefit in the coming weeks from the measures announced, be it the ECB’s liquidity programme, specific and targeted national state aid, support for short-time working, and EIB/EIF investment. In particular, with the guarantee of the Union’s budget, the European Investment Fund, together with banks from all over Europe, we will mobilise around 8 billion euros of funding to help almost 100,000 affected European SMEs, including in the tourism sector.

In addition, the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII), which amounts to 37 billion euros, will enable Member States to mobilise unused Structural Fund budgets for various purposes, including tourism. With the support of the European Parliament received on 26 March this year, this initiative has already entered into force on 1 April.”

‘Marshall Plan’ for Covid-19

“However, we will have to go further, with a European industrial recovery plan for all European industrial ecosystems, the famous fourth pillar of the last Eurogroup – a Marshall Plan,” Commissioner Breton said.

“According to our estimates, tourism should be the main beneficiary of such a plan. It is therefore essential for it to be implemented quickly,” he added.

Commissioner Breton said that tourism should receive 20-25 percent of funds from the recovery plan.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has repeatedly stressed the severe impact the coronavirus crisis has had on the tourism sector.

The organization’s secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, recently said that the UNWTO stands beside Commissioner Breton in his call for 25 percent of all emergency funds to be directed to helping tourism.

“Such an amount reflects both the impact that COVID-19 has had on European tourism and on our sector’s ability to affect positive change,” Pololikashvili said.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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