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Document 51995IR0376

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the 'Commission Green Paper on the role of the Union in the field of tourism'

CdR 376/95

OJ C 126, 29.4.1996, p. 24–27 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)


Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the 'Commission Green Paper on the role of the Union in the field of tourism' CdR 376/95

Official Journal C 126 , 29/04/1996 P. 0024

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the 'Commission Green Paper on the role of the Union in the field of tourism` (96/C 126/05)

On 24 April 1995, the European Commission decided, in accordance with Article 198c of the EU Treaty, to consult the Committee of the Regions on the Green Paper on the Union's role in the field of tourism.

On 19 July 1995, the Committee decided to draw up this Opinion. Sub-Commission 2 - Tourism and Rural Areas - was instructed to carry out the preparatory work. (Rapporteur: Mr Bent Hansen, Denmark).

Sub-Commission 2 adopted its Opinion on 6 September 1995.

At its 10th Plenary Session of 15 and 16 November 1995 (meeting of 16 November 1995) the Committee of the Regions adopted the following Opinion.


The Committee of the Regions refers to its Opinion of 2 February 1995 on 'A development policy for tourism in the EU's rural areas` (CdR 6/95 fin).

The Committee points out that:

- the current requirements and potential inherent in employment, patterns of behaviour, living standards and technology make tourism an industry of the future;

- tourism can contribute to economic and social progress and to diversification;

- tourism can help foster economic and social cohesion and reduce territorial and regional imbalances within the Union, and

- many local and regional authorities exercise powers in the area of tourism.

General comments

1. The Committee of the Regions:

- notes with satisfaction the Green Paper's summary of the Community's current contribution to tourism and the multiple links between the development of tourism and many of the Community's policies and instruments;

- points out that, bearing in mind the major responsibility of local and regional authorities for the development of tourism, the description of the powers of local and regional bodies set out in Annex III of the Green Paper should be more comprehensive, and expresses its readiness to provide the necessary information via its members;

- endorses the clear-cut analysis of the added value created by Community action in favour of tourism and the various prospects for the EU's future role in tourism;

- commends the Commission for the comprehensive consultative procedure advocated by the Green Paper.

The Objectives for the Community's future assistance for tourism

2. The COR would emphasize that the EU 'measures` and 'activities` referred to in the following paragraphs will have to be compatible with the subsidiarity principle.

The COR emphasizes the need to clarify and spell out Community goals for tourism and the need to analyze the possibilities of achieving these goals via a coordinated action under current policies.

The COR calls on the Commission to submit proposals on this area.

3. The COR takes the view that the Community's aim in the tourism sector should be to help foster an economically, culturally and environmentally sustainable development to the long-term advantage of tourists, economic activity and the local population.

The COR therefore agrees that action to take account of business interests and to consider tourists as consumers are important objectives in connection with Community-level efforts to assist tourism.

The COR stresses however that there is a third group which must also be catered for when developing tourism, i.e. ordinary citizens who live in the areas frequented by tourists.

4. The COR feels that, in line with other business activities, it is vital for the tourist industry to be given parameters and have free access to industrial policy instruments which help to establish a level playing field and create growth and employment.

As far as possible, action in the area of tourism should form part and parcel of a more diversified and firmly established economic development strategy.

5. Finally, the COR stresses how important it is for the Community to involve at an early stage regional and local bodies, including authorities and businesses who have primary responsibility for developing tourism.

Cooperation and partnership

6. The COR notes that tourism is an extremely complicated issue, not only in political, but also in practical terms:

- the commercial players range from small and medium-sized undertakings to multinational hotel chains and airlines;

- the 'product` spans areas ranging from city tourism and international mega-attractions to cycling and rural tourism;

- local populations in the various tourist destinations do not constitute a homogenous group. Some earn their living from tourism while others may regard tourism as largely disruptive to the local environment and the local culture;

- local authorities have powers in many areas of importance for tourism.

7. The COR therefore takes the view that a healthy development of tourism hinges on cooperation at all levels in the Union:

- between private suppliers of tourism products and services;

- between public and private bodies with responsibility for tourism;

- between authorities at the various levels in the Union: Commission, Member States and regional and local authorities;

- between the various departments at every level of authority in the Union: between administrative units and departments in local and regional administrations, between ministries in the Member States and between the Commission services.

8. The COR also points out that cooperation via partnerships at all these levels will enhance the value of each individual contribution.

It also points out that none of the players involved can define or take responsibility for securing the requisite cooperation and the hoped-for healthy development. This responsibility is a common concern. But public authorities can play a special role in stimulating cooperation on tourism, by ensuring that public interests are taken into account when tourism is being developed and by continuing to contribute to the development of public amenities, such as nature reserves, cultural monuments etc., leisure facilities and transport infrastructure.

9. The COR specifically points to the capacity of local authorities to play a key role in establishing partnerships and cooperation conducive to the development of tourism along appropriate lines. Democratically elected regional and municipal authorities and bodies have already assumed extensive responsibility for regional and local tourist strategies - which, from an overall appraisal of the situation, form the basis for a long-term, common development of sustainable tourism.

The COR calls on the Commission, within the framework of its actual competences, to immediately boost interregional and local cooperation in the field of tourism, thus reinforcing the local and regional authorities in their leading roles as originators and those in charge at the forefront of the development of tourism in the whole of Europe.

10. In the COR's opinion, it should not be forgotten that businesses, countries, regions and areas are also stimulated to develop tourism via healthy competition to attract tourists.

The EU's future importance for tourism

11. The COR takes the view that a more active, better-coordinated EU contribution is necessary to cope with the dynamic development of tourism and the scope for tourist activities, particularly because of tourism's complex links to many areas within the EU's remit.

12. The COR does not, however, believe that over and above the provisions of the existing EU policies, there is a need to establish a legislative basis for an EU tourist policy.

Nevertheless, it is necessary that those initiatives which are implemented at Community level should have a transparent coherent basis giving EU action the necessary legitimacy, and hence making it both coordinated and effective.

13. The COR stresses that EU involvement in tourism must be based on the subsidiarity principle. Moreover, any attempt to create a common European image could only serve to submerge the individual and cultural identities which Member States and local and regional authorities at present highlight in their destination marketing. Therefore the COR stresses that the responsibility for tourism marketing should not be the responsibility of the Union but should be the responsibility of local, regional and national authorities and organizations.

Community activity must furthermore take account of the different conditions prevailing in the various areas of the Community, irrespective of whether this involves urban or rural areas, or mountain or coastal regions, all of which have specific environmental and cultural features of value to tourism.

14. The COR considers that the advantages of EU-level action on tourism will be maximized by the following three factors: (i) internal coordination of action between Commission DGs, (ii) action backing national, regional and local strategies, and (iii) providing ideas and support for local and regional initiatives.

15. The COR stresses the need for sectoral coordination between the various Commission services, since several departments share responsibility for the wide range of policy areas of major importance to tourism, dealt with in section AII of the Green Paper.

The COR calls for the Community's objectives in the area of tourism to be tied in with the framing and implementation of Community policies in other areas (e.g. environment, culture, SMEs, the internal market, research and technology, transport and education/training).

The COR hopes that steps to define clear-cut objectives for the Community in the tourism sector can contribute to recognition of the importance of taking account of tourism when framing and implementing action plans and programmes for these and other sectors.

But internal rules and procedures must also be introduced, in order to secure tourism the place which it deserves.

16. The COR stresses the need to put tourist undertakings on an equal footing with other businesses for the purpose of Structural Fund aid. It points out that regional and local authorities can secure coordinated application of Structural Fund and national resources for promoting tourism.

It is also important, as far as possible, to forge links between the Community's general objectives for tourism and Structural Fund aid for tourism. However, local and regional needs and priorities must constantly be at the root of projects supported by the Community at local and regional level.

17. The Committee stresses that the Community's action plans for tourism should be viewed as a valuable instrument for experimentation and for disseminating know-how.

On the other hand, action plans should not deprive regional and local partners of political responsibility for framing and implementing sustainable, balanced local and regional development strategies. Tourist undertakings must retain commercial responsibility for developing and marketing new tourist products and services.

Specific comments

18. The COR stresses the Community's important role in connection with pilot projects and the dissemination of know-how and experience, with specific reference to geographical and seasonal distribution, steps to improve training and working conditions and the scope for making tourism more competitive on an overall basis.

The COR therefore asks the Commission to organize the framework, evaluation and the distribution of pilot-projects more efficiently than for the period of 1993-1995, so that the results of projects are of the highest possible quality and so that they can be communicated to a maximum number of people interested. Priority should be given to solutions to problems linked to environmental damage resulting from tourism and which will be developed in the form of pilot-projects by different partners, with experiences from different levels of economic development from a number of Member States.

19. The COR stresses the importance of focusing attention on business tourism, including meetings, courses, incentive trips, congresses and conferences. In these areas, synergy can be fostered between the Community's tourism input and the internationalization of the European economy via the Internal Market and other European policy areas.

Another form of business tourism is made up of fact-finding visits, in other words trips made with the aim of finding out about large technical installations, major companies, public-sector schemes, etc.

20. The COR deems it appropriate for the Community, in cooperation with other relevant bodies, to pursue its work by coordinating and providing tourism statistics and information for those bodies who are to develop future tourism products and frameworks (including tourist undertakings and regional and local authorities).

21. The COR considers that many of the activities which the Community recommends and deploys in respect of small and medium-sized undertakings can be extremely valuable in the tourism area. This applies particularly to action in the field of training and new technology and methods.


22. The COR:

- supports the idea of setting transparent and coordinated guidelines for those tourist activities which are carried out at EU level;

- recommends the establishment of a basis to ensure that the Union takes greater account of the specific interests in the area of tourism in connection with planning and implementation of other Community policies;

- does not believe that this necessarily requires amending the current legislative basis or giving the EU more powers in this area;

- believes that the Commission Green Paper can be construed as a step towards giving tourism the attention it deserves in the EU's political decision-making processes;

- calls on the Commission to submit practical proposals as regards objectives and resources for the Union's contribution to tourism;

- urges the Commission to base its report, to be submitted to the Council in conjunction with the 1996 IGC, on the principles of partnership, complementarity and subsidiarity and stresses the local and regional authorities' responsibility and potential in action to develop tourism;

- believes that the proposals contained in section C III (strengthening Community action via the existing Treaty?) constitute the soundest basis for the Commission's future work, since option C III gives a clear political signal that the present legal basis (Article 3 in the Treaty of the European Union) is adequate for the Union to reach all of the abovementioned goals;

- calls for the COR to be involved in further work on developing objectives and resources relating to the Union's role in tourism.

Done at Brussels, 16 November 1995.

The Chairman of the Committee of the Regions Jacques BLANC