The Brewers of Europe wishes to express sympathy and thoughts with the friends and families of loved ones suffering as a result of COVID-19 and with the people working to care for the vulnerable and keep vital services running. Extraordinary strength, action and solidarity from all parts of society are required to combat this crisis.
The Brewers of Europe supports the extraordinary measures being taken to restrict the spread of the virus, such as shutting down bars, restaurants and festivals, to prevent social gatherings.
However, in an open letter to the Presidents of the European Commission, Council, Parliament, Eurogroup and EBC, and the national finance ministers across Europe, we urge national and European policymakers to keep the impact on the hospitality sector front-of-mind when considering and proposing measures to soften the negative economic and personal effects during this time.
There are several key supportive measures that we recommend for the hospitality sector, its wider beer value chain and all the people working throughout the sector:
- Supportive national fiscal policies, which include short term refunding of tax and social charge payments already made, postponement of new payments, and targeted reductions in VAT and excise over the medium term, to boost recovery and job creation;
- Minimum net salary compensation (e.g. of 90%), by governments, of employees facing technical unemployment;
- Grants and loans, including through the redirection of structural funds, putting the hospitality sector at the core of the new ECB economic stimulus program, plus exceptional state aid measures to compensate for lost earnings under Treaty Article 107(2)(b);
- Appropriate insurance compensation in the case of forced closure or loss of unused stock;
- The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative granting liquidity loans with minimal bureaucratic hurdles at zero interest rate to avoid sound companies collapsing, with flexible repayment terms to allow companies to rebuild balance sheets before repayments.
For centuries, these unique hubs for social gatherings have helped shape local communities, culture and the way of life across the continent – without fast, effective intervention, many of these businesses will disappear altogether from the European map, dramatically and irreversibly changing society forever. Taking the appropriate exceptional measures can help minimise as much as possible the impact on the hospitality sector but also the other sectors, such as brewing, that depend on it.
According to the report published this week into the economic contribution of beer, in 2018 the brewing sector generated in the EU over 2.3 million jobs, €55 billion in value added and €44 billion in government tax revenues, with the biggest impacts seen in the hospitality sector.