state_aid_meetings_industry
Photo: Shutterstock

European State Aid for Meetings Industry

In countries, where the meetings industry is positioned high on the priority scale, lately, there has been news of concrete aid given to the meetings industry. It seems that one of the most affected sectors has finally been addressed by government officials.

As per usual, Germany takes the top spot, as they have aided their meetings industry in every way possible. With direct help worth €642 million, alongside one of the biggest guarantee schemes in the history of the meetings industry, worth €2,5 billion, Germany has outclassed competitive countries. Moreover, German meeting planners have been receiving additional help to ensure workplaces and keep their companies prepared for the industry’s restart. The German government is well aware of the added value of the German meetings industry. According to the research conducted by R.I.F.E.L, the meetings industry employs 1,5 million workers and creates nearly €130 billion income, placing it in sixth place among German economic industries.

In the heart of the European meetings industry, everyone is convinced it makes sense to revive activities that will hardly survive without aid. Doubts regarding such funds occur more or less in Eastern Europe, where they bet on work-intense industries with less added value. In other places, though, they strongly believe that it is worth giving help to the industry, which next to economic effects ensures critical thinking, the development of science, dialogue and democracy. Events have always been crucial, as they ensured that society kept developing in the past. On the other hand, when there are no events, the time of darkness and stagnation arises.

Germany will help its meetings industry with direct help and guarantee schemes worth €3,14 billion.

frankfurt_germany
Photo Credit: Canva Pro/Pexels

In any case, the differences between the north and south, as well as west and east, are starting to show. Countries that are intentionally supporting the meetings industry will earn leading positions when the industry restarts. The Dutch are publicly announcing that this will happen in the second half of 2021. Their estimate is based on the assessment of citizen vaccination.

We have gathered actual data on the help packages of various countries of the EU. Yet, the information changes daily. Several countries have already announced their aid plans and will publish them in the following days (Estonia, Sweden, France, Slovakia). We have categorised them according to the type of help.

A. Help packages associated with the loss of income compared to 2019

THE CZECH REPUBLIC - direct help worth €23,3 million

The Czech Government will help around 400 companies from the meetings industry, whose traffic stagnated by at least 30% from March to October 2020. They intend to help cover up to 60% of costs for individual companies. The maximum financial aid per company is €776,500.

Note: They have also given special help to organisers of cultural events (€28,4 million) and organisers of sports events (€20 million); altogether €71,7 million.

prague

GERMANY - direct help worth €642 million

Germany arguably has the most sophisticated help system in Europe and has not forgotten about one of its most important industries. They have recently further helped congress and trade fair organisers, as well as venues. The European Commission is currently deciding the fate of this new aid. The help will cover up to 100% of the profits companies made before the corona crisis.

night-of-light-red-alert-germany
(Photo credits: www.alarmstuferot.org)

ITALY - direct help worth €370 million

In Italy, the meetings industry help package was confirmed by the European Commission in December 2020. The help package is open for event organisers and others, involved in the meetings industry.

Note: In Italy, they have also arranged help packages for tourist agencies (€625 million). Furthermore, they did not forget about the health tourism sector, which was given €175 million.

italy_events
Photo Credit: Pixabay

IRELAND - direct help worth €7+ €15 million

In Ireland, the direct help was divided separately onto venues, event organisers and incoming agencies (DMC and PCO agencies). The aid was estimated from the minimum of €10.000 to a maximum of €800.000 per company.

belfast_ireland

LATVIA - direct help worth €19 million

Help in Latvia is dedicated both to tourism and event organisers. The help is bound by the number of social expenses paid in 2019. Companies that saw an income loss of at least 30% from April to June 2020 can receive help from their country.

Note: The Latvian government confirmed additional help exclusively for organisers of cultural events. The aid package is worth €5 million and was confirmed in January 2021.

riga_latvia
Photo Credit: Canva Pro/Pixabay

LUXEMBOURG - direct help worth €120 million

The help is dedicated to covering expenses and includes the entire tourism and meetings industry sector. The requirement is the loss of income by 40% compared to 2019 (in November, December and January). You can ask for help via their form. Direct costs, value-added tax, and cost of financing are covered. In regard to the size of the company, the help is limited from €20.000 to €200.000 per month.

arena
Photo Credit: European Arenas Association

SCOTLAND - direct help worth €4,4 million

Scotland allocated their funds exclusively to companies based in Scotland and companies that suffered at least a 25% loss of income compared to 2019. The help is limited from €11.000 to €22.000.

scotland_events
Photo Credit: Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

B. Help packages for cancelled events

BELGIUM - direct help worth €50 million

Event organisers from the Flanders part of Belgium were given between €25.000 and €800.000. The amount was decided based on 60% of the direct costs of events that were cancelled. Individual organisers have to return the money in case they execute the event. The Belgian model was based on Denmark’s help programme.

brussels_belgium

DENMARK - direct help worth €425 million

Denmark’s help package – the first help aid of its kind, confirmed by the EU, was allocated to cancelled events with more than 350 participants. The primary package, estimated at €12 million, was increased to €310 million for events cancelled from 6th March to 30th August 2020. On November 13th 2020, they extended the help till the end of January 2021. Moreover, they once again increased the value to €425 million.

Note: Special help was given to other industries that cannot function due to the corona crisis. Denmark’s help plan is the most comprehensive anti-corona help programme in the EU. It includes the entire meetings industry, together with tourism and DMC agencies.

copenhagen_denmark

C. Guarantee schemes for event organisers

AUSTRIA - guarantee scheme worth €300 million

The guarantee scheme ensures foreign and local organisers a country guarantee for all events, organised by December 2022. The EU Commission confirmed the guarantee scheme on the 19th of January 2021. The goal of the programme is to encourage organisers to start organising events again.

Austria_Center_Vienna_Schnelltest_COVID_2880x1920
Photo: Austria Center Vienna @IAKW-AG

GERMANY - guarantee scheme worth €2,5 billion

By far, the most ambitious guarantee scheme comes from Germany, where they have reserved the most funds for cancelled events. The funds can be acquired by congress and event organiser from June 2021 onwards.

germany
Photo Credit: Bundesministerium der Finanzen

NETHERLANDS - guarantee scheme worth €300 million

Similarly to Austria, Netherlands prepared a guarantee scheme; however, their aid was primarily targeted at large events with over 300 participants (festivals). Optimistically, the Netherlands has successfully announced the easing of restrictions for the meetings industry from 1st July onwards. The date goes hand in hand with successful vaccination.

netherlands_events
Photo Credit: Tomorrowland

Switzerland also prepared their own guarantee scheme. We are still closely following the details, while the information regarding their aid plan will be published in the near future.

D. Special measures, partly concerning the meetings industry

SLOVAKIA - covering rent, worth €200 million

Owners of public spaces in Slovakia, among which are also owners of congress centres and fairs, can demand that up to 50% of their regular rental price be paid.

bratislava_slovakia

KEY FINDING: THE differences between the north and south, as well as west and east, ARE STARTING TO SHOW

Sweden decided to take a similar approach to the meetings industry problem as Slovakia. In particularly tourist-dependent countries, on the other hand, such as Greece, the aid was aimed at the entire tourism sector. Greek’s tourism aid is estimated at €450 million. Hungary soon followed suit.

Find out more about the Slovenian initiative to keep the meetings industry alive at https://www.slovenia-convention.com/sl/ohranimo-slovensko-industrijo-srecanj.

The information regarding the current situation is collected and edited by the editorial board of Kongres Magazine. In the near future, the information will be further complemented with data from all EU members. You are welcome to send additional information pertaining to the current situation at kongres-news@toleranca.eu.