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Opening address by Mr Christos Papoutsis, European Commissioner for Tourism Travel and Tourism Employment to the Forum on European Tourism
 
 
Opening address by Mr Christos Papoutsis, European Commissioner for Tourism Travel and Tourism Employment to the Forum on European Tourism


Brussels, December 8th 1995



Some main points from the Commissioner's speech:

(...) "This Forum is the crowning manifestation of the consultation procedure for the Green Paper. It marks the end of a months-long process, but also the starting point for our future efforts and choices." (...)

(...) "We can say with certainty that tourism: is the largest European industry; is one of the main sectors for the creation of jobs; is a decisive factor in regional development, the creation of infrastructures, cultural development and the protection of our historical heritage." (...)

(...) "It is worth pointing out that all the proposals are in agreement that our fundamental objective must be the competitiveness of the European tourist industry." (...)

(...) "...insufficient account is taken of the interests of tourism when drawing up other Community policies." (...)

(...) "I should like to make myself absolutely clear: tourism is, and will continue to be, principally the responsibility of the Member States and the regions." (...)

(...) "The Community has a large number of policies that have a direct or indirect influence on tourism. In practice, however, it is not possible to coordinate these policies from the point of view of tourist development. At the same time, the Community industry is seriously threatened by the development of other tourist destinations and is facing problems of competitiveness. However, the current regulatory framework makes no provision for measures to support our industry.

For all these reasons, I think that tourism should be incorporated into the Treaty on European Union.

We need, I believe, an article that will provide a legal basis for taking measures to promote the competitiveness of the tourist industry and for tourism measures in general.

An article of this type must obviously not take responsibilities away from the Member States, nor essentially give the Commission new responsibilities. However, it will allow the coordination of other policies designed to take or harmonise measures to promote tourist development." (...)

(...) "I believe that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, future Commission proposals should be targeted at areas where the Union can contribute more than the Member States and the regions.

I am referring in particular to education and training at European level, improving the quality of the services offered, the way Europe is seen by non-member countries, efficient use of the information society and new technology, the development of infrastructures and the development of new forms of tourism.

In short, I am referring to the development of a high-quality and competitive European tourist industry that will give answers to the big challenges of our days: The development, the employment, the protection of the environment, the preservation and the diffusion of the cultural values of the peoples of Europe."

Full Text:

Ministers,

Mr Chairman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament,
Representatives of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions,
Honourable Members of the European Parliament, Ladies and gentlemen,

Your presence here today gives me special pleasure.

I would like to thank you sincerely for accepting the invitation of the European Commission to discuss together the problems of, and prospects for, European tourism.

This Forum is the crowning manifestation of the consultation procedure for the Green Paper.

It marks the end of a months-long process, but also the starting point for our future efforts and choices.

The Green Paper was the result of intense efforts and represents the first overall approach to tourism in the European Union on the part of the European Commission.

Today we can say with certainty that tourism:

- is the largest European industry;

- is one of the main sectors for the creation of jobs;

- is a decisive factor in regional development, the creation of
infrastructures, cultural development and the protection of our
historical heritage.

Thanks to your contribution, your countless and useful reactions to the Green Paper, the European Commission has assembled an enormous wealth of views and proposals on the future of tourism in Europe.

And it is worth pointing out that all the proposals are in agreement that our fundamental objective must be the competitiveness of the European tourist industry.

The fact is that, if our industry is not competitive, it will neither satisfy consumer requirements nor be in a position to play a part in protecting our natural and cultural heritage.

The Green Paper refers to the three essential components of tourism - the tourists, the industry and protection of the environment.

I believe we all agree that integrated development of tourism must take account of all three of these factors.

However, when we refer to the three essential components of tourism, we mean that they must be approached in a balanced fashion.

The question which arises today is what exactly are we aiming at and what can we achieve in the field of tourism at European level? What are our objectives and what means do we need to achieve them?

The success of the tourist industry is based principally on its ability to include amongst its objectives the satisfaction of tourist demand and the protection and development of the common good.

Today, when political measures are being taken at European level for consumers and the environment, as well as in other fields directly concerning tourism, there is no similar support for tourist activities and the tourist industry.

In short, insufficient account is taken of the interests of tourism when drawing up other Community policies.

I believe - and this is something to which I have been personally committed ever since I took up office - in the need for tourism to be given its rightful place in Community policies.

I would like to make myself absolutely clear: tourism is, and will continue to be, principally the responsibility of the Member States and the regions.

Nevertheless, and this became apparent from your reactions to the Green Paper, there are a number of fields in which Community action can offer an added value.

There is general agreement on three objectives:

Firstly: There is today a need for coordination between Community policies,
between the policies of the Member States and the regions, and
between the factors affecting tourism, as a minimum precondition
for advancing further.

Secondly: In certain fields the Community can and must take supplementary,
additional and coordinating action in relation to national
policies, and

Thirdly: The European tourist industry, which is a fundamental source of
employment, needs the support of the European Union.

However, if these objectives are to be attained, I believe there are two requirements which must be met:

There must be the necessary legal basis, under the Treaty on European
Union, for taking the relative measures, and Community action in this
field must be carefully chosen and have a clear objective.


I would like to give you my views on these two requirements.

The Community has a large number of policies that have a direct or indirect influence on tourism. In practice, however, it is not possible to coordinate these policies from the point of view of tourist development.

At the same time, the Community industry is seriously threatened by the development of other tourist destinations and is facing problems of competitiveness. However, the current regulatory framework makes no provision for measures to support our industry.

For all these reasons, I think that tourism should be incorporated into the Treaty on European Union.

We need, I believe, an article that will provide a legal basis for taking measures to promote the competitiveness of the tourist industry and for tourism measures in general.

An article of this type must obviously not take responsibilities away from the Member States, nor essentially give the Commission new responsibilities. However, it will allow the coordination of other policies designed to take or harmonise measures to promote tourist development.

As far as specific measures are concerned, the Action Programme will, as you know, be coming to an end in just a few days. In early 1996, the Commission will present a report on work so far completed.

By general consent, the Action Plan was particularly ambitious in view of the financial and human resources available.

But we should bear in mind that, however successful, no action plan is a substitute for policy. And what Tourism needs today is a policy. A political commitment, a political will, that we will define in common the framework of that policy on a European level.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Your reactions to the Green Paper contain hundreds of suggestions for future action by the Community. I hope that more ideas and suggestions will emerge today.

I believe that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, future Commission proposals should be targeted at areas where the Union can contribute more than the Member States and the regions.

I am referring in particular to education and training at European level, improving the quality of the services offered, the way Europe is seen by non-member countries, efficient use of the information society and new technology, the development of infrastructures and the development of new forms of tourism.

In short, I am referring to the development of a high-quality and competitive European tourist industry that will give answers to the big challenges of our days: The development, the employment, the protection of the environment, the preservation and the diffusion of the cultural values of the peoples of Europe.

Dear friends,

European tourism is at a critical juncture. Its development, and the creation of new jobs in this sector, lies in our hands.

The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference provides us with an important opportunity for promoting a European tourism policy, an opportunity that must not be missed.

However, each and every one of you has a contribution to make - the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - with your resolutions and opinions, not to mention your constant vigilance and involvement in developments at European level;

the Member States, which are familiar with the needs of an industry that is highly market-dependent, and which make a flexible and vibrant contribution to the work of the Council of Ministers;

the confederations, at European and national level, with their prompt, measured but unstinting intervention at all stages of decision-making;

the regions and local authorities, with their judicious weighing-up of interests - interests which help rather than hamper Community progress;

and, of course, the European Commission, on behalf of which I promise and intend to do what I can.

You have my assurance that the process of cooperation and consultation with all those actively involved in the tourism sector will continue and, indeed, be stepped up.

I am personally committed to helping you lead tourism to its objective goal.

I extend my warm thanks to the Honourable Ministers from Italy and Ireland for being here today.

I would also like to thank the Italian Minister, Professor d'Addio, for the decision by the Italian Presidency to organise a formal Tourism Council.

And I hope that the presence of the Irish Minister, Mr Kenny, is an indication of the Irish Presidency s intention to follow Italy's example in order to have two formal Ministerial Tourism Councils in 1996.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us give free reign to our imagination and open our minds as we look to the future, and let us work together to achieve our common goals.


SPEECH/95/277

 

 
Ημ. Έκδοσης:08/12/1995 Share Εκτύπωση
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