Covid 19 - A Spirit of Recovery
On 1 July, spiritsEUROPE launched its Fit For Recovery plan.
Today, after three months of intense consultation with members and partners across our supply chain, we launch the next iteration of our Plan, which acknowledges the great strides in crisis response that have been made across the EU, but also the increasingly severe fallout affecting the hospitality and tourism sectors as they head into an uncertain winter.
Our members have stepped up to the plate, launching campaigns aimed at supporting their hospitality partners through this difficult time. Some examples are provided around this page so that you can see in more detail what our members around the EU are doing to help.
We are proud of our member efforts but they alone are not enough. Our recovery also depends on coordinated support from policymakers at all levels across Europe – local, national and EU.
Our revised five-point policy plan has the following goals:
1. Taxation relief
- Spirits in Europe are subjected to some of the highest excise rates in the world, which is compounded by high rates of VAT across the hospitality and tourism sectors.
- We welcome the fact that a number of European countries have reduced VAT rates for hospitality businesses but regret that beverages have been excluded from a number of these policies.
- We call on governments to implement comprehensive VAT relief programmes alongside temporary excise reductions to encourage consumers to support their local hospitality businesses.
2. Support with cash flow
- Just as hospitality businesses need the breathing room of deferred VAT and other taxes in order to get back on their feet, so too do Europe’s distilleries.
- We are therefore calling on governments to offer deferred excise payments to small and medium-sized distilleries, and also to facilitate access to finance for our members who may need extraordinary bridging loans to get through the difficult trading period ahead.
3. Action on trade
- Europe’s premium brandies, whiskies and vodkas are much-loved and sought-out across the world.
- The European Commission has long been a strong advocate for free trade and we ask new Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and his team to redouble their efforts to resolve ongoing trade disputes.
- In particular, our sector desperately seeks resolution of the trade dispute with the USA, our biggest export market, which currently applies a 25% tariff on many of our members’ products.
4. Harmonisation of travel guidance
- European spirits are one of the most popular products in duty-free outlets, which provide a crucial shop window for Europe’s craft distillers. Their distilleries also depend hugely on international tourism, which has of course seen a dramatic collapse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- We welcome all efforts to harmonise travel guidance across the EU, so that citizens can begin to travel safely and confidently again.
5. Clear and consistent guidance on the hospitality sector
- Our members want to do more to support their partners, but this is complicated in a world where the rules on when to open and how to operate are in flux and subject to change at short notice.
- We urge governments to introduce graduated guidance for the sector over the medium term, based on a system of COVID alert levels. This allows frontline businesses to plan, and our members to effectively target their support.
- We call for an evidence-based, proportionate response to the covid pandemic, recognising that hospitality venues are not necessarily the major source of infections. The hospitality sector is regulated, fully adheres to all the safety rules that have been introduced and offers a safe place for people to socialise compared to unregulated and unsafe environments.
- We would welcome more coordination on these approaches at European level.
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