The priorities of the upcoming Portuguese Presidency: interview to Ambassador Pedro Lourtie
1. On 1st January, Portugal will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU at a most difficult time for our industry. At the time of writing, many hospitality businesses are closing again across Europe or facing significant decreased of the demand for businesses still open. Could you detail to our readers what the main priorities of the Portuguese Presidency will be in view of helping to rebuild the sector? Do you foresee further support package for the industry?
We can all acknowledge that due to the sudden and unprecedented fall in demand of travel and tourism, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector is facing serious difficulties all over the European Union and, therefore, requiring all the support and instruments that Member States are able to provide, ideally in a coordinated manner.
With that objective in mind, the European Commission has put forward several tools for Member States to support the economic recovery, including in the Tourism sector. We must continue to give special attention to this sector. The Portuguese Presidency will make the utmost to ensure that Tourism will receive the required attention, not only to recover from the crisis, but also to make the sector fit for future, while taking into account its important contribution and role to the green and digital transitions, and to the sustainability of the European Union economy as a whole.
2. HOTREC believes that industry survival today depends on a common EU testing protocol for travelers and a coordinated approach to quarantines and travel restrictions. How will the Portuguese Presidency approach this issue? What other aspects do you deem as key to restoring travel confidence and bringing guests back to hospitality establishments when they will reopen?
The European Union is facing its most challenging public health crisis. The Union and its Member States have taken unprecedented and essential measures to control the outbreak of the virus and save lives and have been working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of the measures on the internal market and the free movement of citizens. Controls, when and where needed, must be proportionate, non-discriminatory and as targeted as possible.
During the Portuguese Presidency, we will continue to promote a common and coordinated approach to ensure the cohesion of the single market and the free movement of citizens, while striving to improve the coordination in the tourism sector. We will work closely with the Member States to avoid sudden decisions on border control, different quarantine requirements and to harmonize the recognition of tests.
To restore travel confidence, we need to offer clarity and predictability to all stakeholders and promote the trust of consumers, notably by ensuring that the necessary health measures, as well as hygiene and safety protocols, are in place and that they are respected.
3. A message to the European hospitality sector
Despite the dire effects of this pandemic, the Member States, with businesses, associations and citizens, must continue to work together, so that we can make the most of the lessons learned from the crisis, developing the sector in a resilient and sustainable way, i.e. making it future proof. The instruments and tools that are being put together for the recovery, at the EU and national level, will give an important contribution to the hospitality sector and will provide an opportunity to think and make things differently. The Portuguese Presidency will put all its efforts to make sure these instruments will meet the needs of the sector and are deployed as soon as possible.