Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twelfth Report


COM(01) 665

COM(01) 668

Commission Communication: Working together for the future of European

Commission Report: Follow-up of the European Council of 21 September: the
situation in the European tourism sector.

Legal base:
Documents originated:13 November 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 14 November 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 5 December 2001
Department:Culture, Media and Sport
Basis of consideration: EMs of 18 December 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
Discussed in Council: 26 November 2001
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:(Both) Cleared


  19.1  In 1997, following the Luxembourg Summit on Employment, a High Level Group (HLG) was appointed to look at creating the conditions for tourism to make a greater contribution to growth and stability in employment in Europe. Its report, New Partnerships for Jobs, was the basis for the Commission Communication, Enhancing Tourism's Potential for Employment, which we cleared on 16 June 1999[44].

  19.2  According to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell), in her Explanatory Memorandum of 18 December 2001, the Member States did not entirely agree with the Communication and the German Presidency subsequently put forward a compromise proposal, to focus on key areas, such as the application to tourism of new technologies, training and sustainable development. Five expert Working Groups were set up to look at best practice and suggest how issues in these areas should be addressed. The Commission Communication suggests some measures for implementing the recommendations of these Working Groups.

The Commission Communication

  19.3  The Commission says that the Working Groups have co-operated closely, under the guidance of the Tourism Advisory Committee, to follow up the Conclusions of the Council of 21 June 1999 on Tourism and Employment. These called on the Commission and the Member States to co-operate closely to maximise the contribution which tourism could make. According to the Communication, a new momentum was generated among the main stakeholders, the Member States, the tourism industry, civil society and the Commission, by the reaction of the other institutions. Reference is made to a Resolution of the European Parliament of 18 February 2000 and Opinions of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions issued in 2000.

  19.4  The Working Groups agreed on a number of messages which the Commission has taken into account in the Communication. To achieve the objective of the Tourism and Employment process of creating the conditions and providing the basis for sustainable high-quality tourism and competitive European tourism businesses, the Commission proposes a strategy aimed at:

    —  giving a new impetus to improving the integration of the concerns of the tourism sector into wider Community policies and initiatives;

    —   introducing a limited number of measures aimed at:

      (a)  promoting the adaptation of the sector to market developments. This will include the development of human resources and management methods, with particular emphasis on the needs of SMEs;

      (b)  making access to knowledge and information more readily available within the industry and better exploited;

      (c)  promoting schemes for tourism to benefit from Community financial and non-financial instruments; and

      (d)  speeding up the adaptation of all bodies, authorities and businesses in the tourism sector to the information society and promoting the use of tools and services based on information and communication technology, including through incorporating them in a network.

  19.5  The ten measures suggested must meet a set of criteria which include strict observance of the principle of subsidiarity. This, the Commission says, will determine the distribution of responsibilities amongst the various stakeholders.

  19.6  The Commission notes that many Community policies and programmes, while not specifically designed in terms of tourism objectives, have a significant impact on the tourism-related industries, on the interests of tourists, and on the development and preservation of the natural and cultural heritage. These include consumer issues, funding through the Structural Funds, transport and environmental initiatives.

The Commission report

  19.7  In a report to the Ghent Summit dated 17 October 2001, an Overview of EU action in response to the events of 11 September and assessment of their likely economic impact,[45] the Commission set out what the EU had done to date, listed the implications for priorities in terms of action and resources, and examined briefly the impact of the events on the EU economy, with specific attention to four sectors, one of which was tourism[46].

  19.8  The Commission asked European and international tourism trade associations for their views on the impact of the events of 11 September and invited them to identify any policy implications. From the replies received from these bodies and from the Member States, it concluded that the picture is mixed, and that those Member States more reliant on higher- spending long-haul visitors, such as the UK and Ireland, have suffered more than other Member States. The challenge will be to develop a strategy for the European tourism sector that meets the challenges ahead. This, together with requests from the European tourism industry for integration and co-operation, should be met by the new co-operative approach set out in the Communication.

  19.9  In arriving at this conclusion, the Commission comments that analysis was complicated by the fact that the impact of the 11 September atrocities, both on travel behaviour and on business, overlapped with preceding developments, such as the global economic downturn and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which had an extremely damaging effect on inbound tourism in the United Kingdom. It expects travellers' fears to be overcome with time, so the effect should not be significant in the longer term.

  19.10  The impact simulation carried out immediately after 11 September forecast dramatic losses, with severe effects on GDP and employment world-wide. The figures for Europe, where tourism accounts for 5% of both GDP and employment, that is for more than 8 million jobs, were alarming. However, in the medium to long term, the Commission thinks it conceivable that there will be no measurable impact if no new events take place.

The Government's view

  19.11  The Minister says that the Government considers that the promotion of tourism is primarily a matter for Member States. Decisions on tourism policy should be made at a national level and at the level of the devolved administrations. The European Commission's role should be restricted to supporting national policies. With reference to the Communication, she says:

    "We see one of the Commission's main tasks in this respect is to ensure good co-ordination within the European Commission so that the interests of tourism are fully taken into account in the preparation of legislation and in the operation of programmes and policies which may impact on the tourism sector. Many programmes now include a tourism dimension or take into account the impact they may have on tourism-related activities. We would welcome the introduction of measures allowing the Commission to be better informed about policies and programmes with the potential to impact on the tourism sector."

  19.12  The Minister adds that the Government intends to take full account of the 1997 High Level Group (HLG) report and the Communication in pursuing its national strategies for tourism. However, she says, it will not be seeking to implement the recommendations of the HLG report other than in this way. The Government remains unconvinced of the need for a European multi-annual programme on tourism, or an over-arching framework for Community action.

  19.13  The Government sees clear merit, however, in some of the initiatives and suggestions of the HLG report, the Communication and this report. These include, the Minister says "the improved integration of tourism into other EU policies, and systems for the collection and dissemination of information and sharing good practice". She adds that the Government, also shares the central thesis of these documents, that the tourism sector offers great potential to boost employment and growth.


  19.14  We understand that the Communication and the report were presented to the Internal Market, Consumer and Tourism Council on 26 November. No vote was called and the Communication is expected to be discussed further in Working Groups during the Spanish Presidency. Neither document contains legislative proposals, and we would expect any that may be recommended by the Working Groups to be the subject of new documents.

  19.15  We therefore now clear these documents from scrutiny.

44  (20134) 7866/99; see HC 34 - xxii (1998-99), paragraph 18 (16 June 1999). Back

45  (22864) 13191/01; see paragraph 10 of this Report. Back

46  The others were the financial markets, the global insurance and reinsurance sector and air transport. Back

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