Dear EBI members,
Following on from our COVID-19 videoconference last week and your support for the joint policy paper, we have been reaching out to all European boating associations to get their support for the paper. We are delighted to now have the support of 17 signatories (see attached paper). Further may still come in the next days. This is an important sign of unity and will help us in our lobbying. We will now be further intensifying our lobbying towards the EU institutions and keep you updated on next developments.
To disseminate the paper as widely as possible, we have prepared the attached press release and will upload this together with the policy paper to our website. The press release will be published tomorrow at 11:00 (CEST). You are of course welcome to distribute the paper and use it in your advocacy actions.
Many thanks for your support, please do not hesitate to let me know in case you have any questions.
EBI is aiming to inform the recreational boating industry about the developments regarding the measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak at EU level, as well as its advocacy activities. All information is updated regularly (highlighted in green) and provided freely. EBI is fully available to support and all contact can be directed to the Secretary General (pe(a)europeanboatingindustry.eu). For national support measures, we advise you to contact national associations.
1. Industry position
Joint policy paper by European boating industry associations to address COVID-19 outbreak (9 April 2020 – New)
The policy paper, signed by 18 associations, calls on the EU institutions and national governments to support the sector and protect jobs against the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. It calls for swift measures to help companies survive the immediate crisis and actions to support recovery and stimulate demand.
The full paper can be found here.
European tourism sector demands urgent supportive measures to reduce devastating impact of COVID-19 (17 March 2020)
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector issued a statement on the need for urgent measures to limit the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact. EBI is a member of the coalition and fully supports the statement.
The full statement can be found here.
2. Economic and fiscal measures
1. Agreement on €540 bn package of economic support measures (9 April 2020 – New)
The EU finance ministers agreed on a package of economic support measure for Member States to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. It allows the European Investment Bank to set up a fund of €200 billion in loans for companies. The European Commission’s proposal of a €100 bn instrument to support national short-time work schemes was also supported. Lastly, any Eurozone country will also be able to draw on a credit line worth 2 percent of its economic output from the eurozone’s bailout fund (the European Stability Mechanism) The funds can be used without conditions but must be used to finance direct or indirect healthcare, or cure and prevention related costs. The credit line will be available until the end of the crisis. This €240 billion in credit lines should be accessible within two weeks. The so-called Coronabonds are not part of the package agreed but may be discussed again at a later stage.
Ministers also agreed on working on a Recovery Fund to prepare and support the recovery, providing funding through the EU budget to programmes designed to kick-start the economy. This still requires discussion on financing and structure. They also announced ongoing work on a broader Roadmap and Action Plan for Recovery.
The full package will next be discussed by the European Council of national leaders. The full statement can be found here.
European Investment Fund support of €8bn for SMEs (6 April 2020)
Through EU funding, the European Investment Fund will provide funding to banks and other lenders. These will then provide liquidity to at least 100,000 European SMEs and small mid-cap companies hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. An estimated financing of €8 billion will be available towards the end of April. SMEs will be able to apply directly to their local banks and lenders participating in the scheme. These will be listed on www.access2finance.eu in the next weeks.
European Commission proposes €100 bn instrument to support short-time work schemes (2 April 2020)
The new instrument for temporary “Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency” (SURE) is aimed at protecting jobs and workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It will provide loans to Member States of up to €100 billion. These should be used to set up or extend short-time work schemes already existing at national level.
Short-time work schemes are programmes that allow companies experiencing economic difficulties to temporarily reduce their employees’s working hours. The hours not worked are then covered by the governments. The aim is to prevent firms making employees permanently redundant.
Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (26 March 2020)
The Commission has published the “Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative” (CRII) with €37 billion to the COVID-19 outbreak. This will provide funds to Member States in order to tackle short-term financial shocks, with special attention on sectors which are particularly hard hit (including tourism). A Task Force has been set up to coordinate precise needs with Member States and assist them to ensure that money starts flowing as soon as possible. This proposal was approved by the Council and the European Parliament.
The full information can be found here.
Activation of the general escape clause of fiscal framework (20 March 2020)
The Commission proposed the activation of the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact as part of its strategy to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This was approved by the Economy and Finance ministers. This will allow Member States to deal with the crisis while departing from the budgetary requirements that normally apply. This enables Member States to ensure that sufficient liquidity remains available to businesses of all types and preserve the continuity of economic activity during and after the outbreak.
Temporary Framework for State Aid (19 March 2020)
The Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework to enable Member States to support the economy in the context of the Coronavirus outbreak. The Temporary Framework provides for five types of aid, which can be granted by Member States: 1) direct grants, selective tax advantages and advance payments, 2) state guarantees for loans taken by companies from banks, 3) subsidised public loans to companies, 4) safeguards for banks that channel state aid to the real economy and 5) short-term export credit insurance.
All state aid decisions taken under the temporary framework can be found here.
3. Impact on tourism industry
Statement by Justice Commissioner Reynders on cancellation of package travel holidays (9 April 2020 – New)
Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders repeated his call to Member States and travel organisers to find pragmatic and flexible solutions that respect travellers’ rights for cancelled package travel holidays concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. While he underlined the traveller’s right to be reimbursed in accordance with the EU Package Travel Directive, he called for pragmatic solutions to be found:
“Travellers have the right to get a full refund if their trip is cancelled. However, when possible, consumers should consider accepting a voucher that allows them to postpone their holidays to a later point in time, under certain conditions. Such voucher should be reimbursable if not used and secured against possible insolvency of the operator. At the same time, Member States should also consider providing liquidity support to the travel business that allows them to settle travellers’ refund claims, in accordance with State aid rules.”
The Commission specifically refers to the Danish State loan facility in support of the Travel Guarantee Fund as best practice in this regard (see here). Last month, the European Commission published an advisory guidance on EU package travel rules in the context of COVID-19 (see below).
The full statement can be found here.
World Travel and Tourism Council overview of COVID-19 policy changes
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is providing updates about policy changes in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak. This provides an overview of the tax measures, workforce protection measures, loans and other policies taken to support the tourism industry.
The information can be found on the WTCC’s website here.
Members of the European Parliament demand response for impact on tourism industry
Members of the European Parliament through the Tourism Taskforce have written to the European Commission outlining the major impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the tourism sector. They call for a targeted response at EU level through a dedicated tourism rescue plan. This should include:
- Clear and specific assessment of impact on the tourism industry
- Introduction of national compensation schemes for tourism companies lasting as long as necessary to support them
- Financial support for the tourism sector under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
- Special assistance and direct financial aid for regions reliant on tourism
EBI will be providing input to these initiatives to support the nautical tourism sector.
Guidance on the Package Travel Directive in connection with COVID-19 (19 March 2020)
The European Commission has issued non-binding guidance on the application of the Package Travel Directive in relation to COVID-19. This relates to all travel included in the scope of the Package Travel Directive, i.e. a combination of at least two travel services. In addition, Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, stated that European legislation guarantees the right to reimbursement. The European Commission has further specified that it is working with Member States to encourage consumers to accept vouchers rather than seek reimbursement. EBI supports this effort, as well as those at national level to encourage use of vouchers.
The guidance can be found in full here.
4. Travel restrictions & border closures
Extension of restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until 15 May (8 April 2020 – New)
The Commission recommended to extend the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until 15 May. It sees this as necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading further.
The travel restriction, as well as the invitation to extend it, applies to the ‘EU+ area’, which includes all Schengen Member States (including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) and the 4 Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). It would also include Ireland and the United Kingdom if they decide to align. Any further extension of the travel restriction beyond 15 May would need to be assessed again, depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak. The travel restriction does not apply to EU citizens, citizens of non-EU Schengen countries and their family members, and non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU when returning home.
The full communication can be found here.
Guidance on free movement of workers during COVID-19 (30 March 2020)
The Commission has issued guidance on mobile workers within the EU to allow then to reach their workplace. This focusses on people in critical professions to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, but also applies for all other professions that workers have to reach across borders. The Commission underlined that despite the recently introduced border controls it is imperative that critical workers are able to reach their destination without delay. The full list of critical occupations can be found in the guidelines. The guidelines also clarify that Member States should allow frontier workers in general to continue crossing borders if work in the sector concerned is still allowed in the host Member State. Member States should treat cross border workers and national workers in the same manner.
The Commission urges Member States to establish specific burden-free and fast procedures for border crossings with a regular flow of frontier and posted workers, to ensure a smooth passage for them. This may be done, for instance, by means of dedicated lanes at the border for such workers or with specific stickers recognised by neighbouring Member States to facilitate access to the territory of the Member State of employment.
The full guidance can be found here.
EU border restrictions and introduction of ‘green lanes’ for goods (23 March 2020)
To alleviate the potential negative impact of border closures on transport of goods, the Commission proposed guidelines to secure the flow of goods on 16 March. This included the designation of priority lanes for freight transport (so-called green lanes). The full guidelines can be found here.
These were now further specified by the Commission and supplemented with practical advice. The full information can be found here. All major border crossings in the trans-European transport network should be designates as ‘green lane’ border crossings according to the Commission (see here for the map).
Below are some key measures that should be applied at these crossings:
- Procedures should be minimised and streamlined to what is strictly necessary, and should not take more than 15 minutes on land borders for any type of good
- Checks and screening should be carried out without drivers having to leave their vehicles, and drivers should undergo only minimal checks
- Drivers of freight vehicles should not be asked to produce any document other than their identification and driving license and if necessary, a letter from the employer
- Electronic submission/display of documents should be accepted
- No freight vehicle or driver should face discrimination, irrespective of origin and destination, the driver’s nationality or the vehicle’s country of registration
- Member States should temporarily suspend all types of road access restrictions in place in their territory (weekend bans, night bans, sectoral bans, etc.)
The Commission also includes recommendations for drivers and relevant transport-related undertakings (loading, unloading, rest times, border crossings). Companies should inform EBI about issues encountered with supply chains and transport across borders. These will be raised towards the European Commission.
5. Production of Personal Protective Equipment
Guidance on production of protective equipment for prospective manufacturers (30 March 2020)
Several companies in the boating industry have changed their production towards protective equipment. The European Commission has now issued guidance for such companies to understand and assess the applicable legal and technical requirements. This can be found below
- Conformity assessment procedures for protective equipment (e.g. face masks) – here
- Conformity assessment procedures for 3D printing and 3D printed products to be used in a medical context for COVID-19 – here
- Guidance on the applicable legislation for leave-on hand cleaners and hand disinfectants – here
This comes in addition to the European standardisation committees (CEN and CENELEC), making European standards for certain medical devices and personal protective equipment freely available. This helps companies willing to manufacture these items to swiftly start production. The standards can be found here.
6. Other guidance
ECDC guidance on disinfection of non-healthcare settings potentially contaminated (26 March 2020)
The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has issued guidance for disinfection of environments in non-healthcare settings potentially contaminated with COVID-19. The guidance can be found in full here.
7. Further information