Live from Brussels – Issue 109

Dear readers,

Welcome to our ‘Live from Brussels’ newsletter. As we publish this new issue, our team is looking at the outcome of the 84th HOTREC General Assembly, which took place in Prague in late April. The event has been the perfect opportunity to exchange views with our members and guests on the direction European hospitality is taking amidst the slow recovery and the dramatic geopolitical situation.

A moving speech from our colleagues of the Ukrainian Hotel and Resort Association (UHRA), joining us online from Kyiv, highlighted the unthinkable struggles hoteliers in the country are experiencing and described a severe refugee crisis. I am proud of having UHRA among our members and applaud the HOTREC family and the entire hospitality sector for their essential role in welcoming the Ukrainian people fleeing the war zone.

Overall, we are concerned by the combined impact of pandemic-related issues and the recent increase in inflation rates and energy and food prices and keep asking for continued support and access to EU funding. In this context, I believe that the recent decision by the Irish government to extend the 9% reduced VAT rates for tourism and hospitality is precisely the kind of measure that the industry needs to help companies get back on their feet.

Despite remaining cautious, what emerged from the event is also a sentiment of optimism. European countries all over Europe are lifting travel and quarantine restrictions – an initiative which, just this week, we warmly welcomed together with our colleagues from the European Tourism Manifesto alliance – while still warning the EU on the need to revise the Council Recommendations on travel. We hope for the reestablishment of international travel if the epidemiological situation allows it.

In this issue, we had a chance to discuss the recovery and the impact of the Ukrainian war on the European tourism ecosystem with Mr Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission (ETC), whom I want to thank for his precious contribution.

Our General Assembly also gave us an opportunity to celebrate a crucial achievement as last March EU legislators reached a landmark agreement that will lead to the final adoption of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). We believe that the DMA text will ensure that hoteliers are treated more fairly by online travel agents and tackle behaviour that undermines the sector’s digitalisation. Our Members also provided us with valuable and constructive insights to build a level playing field and support future rules on short-term rentals at European and local level.

To conclude, it is a pleasure for me to announce that, come June 1st, the Turkish Restaurant & Entertainment Association (TURIYD) will join HOTREC as a new associate member. We are looking forward to welcoming you and working together to make European hospitality thrive!

Enjoy your reading! 





Live from the network

Social Affairs




Interview with Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission

Eduardo Santander is the Executive Director of the European Travel Commission, an association of NTOs created in 1948 to promote Europe as a tourism destination. In this role, Mr Santander steers ETC’s activities aimed at building the value of tourism for the countries of Europe through cooperation in sharing best practices, market intelligence and promotion. Mr Santander has over 15 years of experience in tourism-marketing, brand-development, business-consulting, advocacy and public affairs. He is a passionate advocate of freedom to travel, smart connectivity and sustainability in tourism and beyond.


European Commission unveils updated Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER)

On 10 May, the European Commission published the new Vertical Block Exemption Regulation ('VBER') accompanied by the new Vertical Guidelines. The Commission has also published an explanatory note. The revised VBER and Vertical Guidelines will enter into force on 1 June 2022.


EU Institutions reach political agreements on Digital Markets and Services Acts

EU lawmakers reached a landmark agreement on Friday 25 March 2022 which will lead to the definitive adoption of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). HOTREC applauded the EU for setting new rules targeting digital gatekeepers which exercise disproportionate power towards their business users and consumers.

Confirmation of online bookings: European Court of Justice clarifies what the consumer needs to know

When can a booking be considered as finalised when buying online? The European Court of Justice delivered an important judgement on the validity of contracts by electronic means on 7 April to clarify this issue.

Live from the network

Hotel 4.0 Summit in Portugal: accelerating the digitalization of the sector to remain competitive and overcoming Covid-19 uncertainty

On 11 May 2022, Ms Marie Audren, HOTREC Director General, joined the Hotel 4.0 Portugal Summit: a conference organized by the Association of hotels, restaurants and similar establishments in Portugal (AHRESP).

Social Affairs

Pay Transparency: a compromise protecting SMEs and collective bargaining is needed

On 5 April 2022, the European Parliament plenary approved the mandate of the EMPL and FEMM committees of the European Parliament to negotiate with the Council on the proposal for a Directive on Pay Transparency.


European Court of Justice: EU law does not prevent municipalities from requesting fiscal data from platforms

On 27 April, the European Court of Justice rejected a case brought by Airbnb Ireland against Belgian regional legislation requiring it to provide information to tax authorities on tourist transactions.


Czech presidency of the Council of the EU: expectations and asks

At HOTREC 84th General Assembly in Prague, Czech Vice Minister for Regional Development, Mr Ondrej Profant, presented his country’s priorities for the EU Presidency relevant to hospitality.

Digitalization of the visa application system most welcome

On 27 April 2022, the European Commission issued its proposal for the digitalisation of the Schengen visa process.

EU travel and tourism stakeholders call for international travel boost

HOTREC and the European Tourism Manifesto alliance support the extension of the EU Covid digital certificate for one year period (until July 2022).

Package travel: to be or not to be?

Becoming a package organiser or not: that is the question that comes to mind of hoteliers nowadays. While the paramount objective of the Package Travel Directive (PTD) was to enhance travellers’ protection, it created hurdles for hotels and impacted travellers’ experience. It’s now up for revision.

Download the pdf


08 Sep
09:00 - 13:00
List of Participants Ms. Olga Kefalogianni, Greek Tourism Minister, will join us during the morning for an exchange (timing will be confirmed later) Draft Agenda [...]
Together for EU Tourism (T4T) stakeholder meeting
09:00 - 13:00
On 11 September 2023, the European Commission (DG GROW) will organise the first stakeholder event to support the co-implementation of the Transition Pathway for Tourism. This will be a hybrid event, taking place in Brussels and online.
Social Affairs Working Group meeting
10:00 - 12:00
On 12 September 2023, HOTREC will organise another meeting of its Social Affairs Working Group.
Members session on HOTREC European elections manifesto
10:00 - 12:00
On 14 September 2023, HOTREC will organise a members-only session to discuss the upcoming European Elections (June 2024). 
HOTREC Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee meeting
09:30 - 13:00
On the morning of 18 September 2023, HOTREC will organise another meeting of the Sectoral Social Dialogue (SSD) Committee. 
HOTREC Short-Term Rentals (STRs) Working Group meeting
10:00 - 11:30
On 21 September 2023, HOTREC will organise another meeting of its Short-Term Rentals Working Group.
Social Dialogue reform - meeting with European Commission
09:30 - 12:00
On 27 September 2023, HOTREC, together with other social partners representatives, will meet wit the European Commission to discuss the future organisation of the Social [...]
Working Group on Restaurants, Bars, Cafés & Late-nights: 28 September 2023
10:00 - 11:30
New information now available: link to register & draft agenda of the meeting.
Events on 08/09/2023
Events on 11/09/2023
Events on 12/09/2023
Events on 18/09/2023