MEPs and the beer sector are working to create a special taskforce to help bars, pubs, restaurants and cafés recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

According to Ivan Štefanec, MEP and President of the European Parliament Beer Club, the taskforce aims to monitor the ongoing crisis due to coronavirus and ensure that EU recovery instruments can be used as effectively as possible.

Speaking at Bridging the Gap: The Recovery of the Hospitality Sector, an online event hosted by EU40 on Thursday 17 December 2020, Mr. Štefanec stressed that businesses in the beer value chain such as bars, cafés, and restaurants should be able to take advantage of the 1.8tn euro budget and recovery fund, especially if they seek to make digital or green improvements.

“If small companies seek to improve in this way – be it digital or green technology – they can receive funding” he said, underlining the fact that 50% of SMEs are in need of immediate help following the near total shutdown of the social economy in 2020.

André Costa Monteiro, Alternate Financial Counsellor at the Portuguese Permanent Representation to the EU, pointed to how the speed of the response from the EU was almost unprecedented, acting quickly and at scale to the crisis.

However, the hospitality sector had been, and is still being, affected more than others. Whilst a priority for Portugal’s presidency of the EU will be to work with the Commission and Member States to respond economically, Mr Monteiro said: “It’s time to deliver. How do we get the funding instruments flowing to the hospitality sector?”

The beer and hospitality sectors are interdependent, with 1.6 million jobs created by the added value of beer in bars, cafés, and restaurants in Europe.

Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, secretary-general of The Brewers of Europe said, “The brewing and hospitality sectors need an economically sustainable roadmap, including a guarantee of long-term financial support, to reopen and reconnect safely, not just to partially compensate closure.”

This view was shared by both Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland and Tess Posthumus, owner of the Flying Dutchman Cocktail Bar in Amsterdam, with drink producers and bars both facing mounting costs that the short-term response measures will not fully cover – such as rent, point-of-sale systems and return of unsold stock.

Early 2021 will be crucial for the EU economically and if hospitality is to be a driver of economy once again, it will need the ability to respond, recover and reconnect. The new taskforce will cooperate to remind each of the European institutions how important the beer and hospitality sector is in 2021 and beyond.

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EU40 is a platform for young Pro-European Members of the European under the age of 40. The session Bridging the Gap: The Recovery of the Hospitality Sector can be replayed on YouTube.

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