CESI statement: Towards an adjusted new MFF, an EU Recovery Instrument for Member States and a (hopefully) safe and coordinated resumption of travel and tourism in Europe

On Wednesday, May 13, the European Commission published new guidelines on how to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in the tourism and transports sectors in Europe, which are fundamental to the well-functioning of the EU’s single market and the economy especially of some of the countries most hit by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also presented an outlook to the European Commission’s envisaged proposals for a longer-term EU response to help the Member State recover economically and socially from the Corona fallout. CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger and CESI’s Vice-Presidents from the Italian Confsal, Roberto di Maulo and the Spanish CSIF, Javier Jordán de Urries Sagarna, reacted with cautious optimism.

The European Commission’s (non-binding) guidelines for the Member States on how to resume travel and tourism in Europe in (hopefully) safe and coordinated manner include an entire package with the following elements:
• an overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond;
• a common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way;
• a framework to support the gradual re-establishment of transport whilst ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel;
• a recommendation which aims to make travel vouchers an attractive alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers;
• criteria for restoring tourism activities safely and gradually and for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels.

According to the European Commission, its proposed guidance aims to give citizens a perspective to “catch up with friends and family, in their own EU country or across borders, with all the safety and precautionary measures needed in place” and to help the EU tourism sector recover from the pandemic by supporting businesses and ensuring that Europe “continues to be the number one destination for visitors.” The European Commission stressed that social partners should be centrally involved in the Member States’ deconfinement deliberations. 

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger stressed: “It is positive news that the European Commission strives to coordinate a common approach to deconfinement in Europe, which is absolutely desirable. Even if the COVID-19 incidence varies nationally, regionally and even locally, deconfinement should not be as chaotic as the confinement was. Member states should take the European Commission’s deconfinement guidelines as a basis to ensure a common approach in Europe and beef them up where necessary to ensure a responsible deconfinement based above all on scientific advice. It will also be central that Member States will hear and consider the constructive concerns and suggestions of all trade unions and social partners.

CESI Vice-President Javier Jordán de Urries Sagarna from the Spanish CSIF added: “Tourism is one of the most important sectors for the Spanish economy. While the EU guidelines to jumpstart travel and tourism in Europe are very important, the priority must be the safety of the workforce. Every workers needs to be equipped with the necessary protective equipment, and no worker should be at irresponsible risk when resuming his or her function. Deconfinement must be cautious and put the health of workers and citizens first.”

Beyond the guidelines, on May 13, European Commission President von der Leyen also presented to the European Parliament a glimpse into envisaged proposals for a Corona-adjusted new Multinannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 and a new EU Recovery Instrument dedicated to help Member States in the longer term to mitigate the social and economic Corona fallout financially and in terms of investments.

CESI Vice-President Roberto di Maulo from the Italian Confsal concluded: “Further help by the EU is necessary for workers and businesses in hard-hit countries such as Italy. I expect not only a swift adoption of the EU’s SURE programme to support wages of affected workers in the Member States. The European Commission should also quickly publish its proposals for a Recovery Instrument and an adjusted new Multiannual Financial Framework for the EU for 2021-2027 which gives Member States the prospects to fight the Corona fallout effectively and avoid excessive economic and social costs. Furthermore, interventions in support of the economies of individual states cannot be left to the European Central Bank alone. The first outlook of the Recovery Instrument and MFF presented by President von der Leyen to the European Parliament seems positive, and we now need concrete and ambitious proposals on the table.”

More information about the tourism and transport deconfinement guidelines
Further information about Ms von der Leyen’s sketch of an adjusted new MFF proposal and a new EU Recovery Instrument, as presented to the European Parliament