FEP delegation e-meets Commissioner Gabriel

Brussels, 22 April 2020

The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel held a videoconference with a delegation of members of the Federation of European Publishers, at lunchtime today.

The meeting which was first programmed to happen physically in the Berlaymont (Brussels) building, was an ideal opportunity to give the Commissioner first-hand information on the impact and likely consequences of the Covid19 crisis on the book sector, where current analyses predict at least a 25% decrease of annual revenues.

European publishers exchanged thoughts with the Commissioner on suggested solutions to address the crisis, first at EU level with a call to better finance the Creative Europe programme (as requested by the Parliament) and including increasing the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility. The Commissioner, supported by the Parliament, is working on opening up other funding programmes such as Horizon Europe, but also by transferring funds from the structural funds such European Fund for Strategic Investments.

Aware that the most urgent support measures will come from the national governments, the publishers asked Mrs Gabriel to encourage Member States to help the sector. They presented some of the solutions they are urgently requesting at national level, such as increased buying of books by libraries from booksellers in order to inject liquidity into the entire book value chain; or providing families with book vouchers to spend in bookshops.

Finally, they asked the Commissioner to give careful consideration to policies in the field of education and research as well as other policies affecting the publishing sector. The role of publishers is crucial to ensure high quality knowledge dissemination, accurate information and responsible entertainment. For this to continue, urgent support from the EU and the national governments is required, as well as sustainable policies in the field of open access.

European publishers were impressed by Mrs Gabriel’s commitment and engagement with the sector and the many initiatives she is working upon at EU and national level.

Closing the meeting, Vice-President Peter Kraus vom Cleff thanked the Commissioner saying that “the publishing sector is playing its role during this crisis amid the catastrophic consequences for all the stakeholders; authors, publishers, booksellers and all those gravitating around the book world such as book fairs and printers. We appreciate your support and commitment. We thank you for your efforts and promise to continue working with you to guarantee a future for our sector, which is a chamber of the beating heart of European culture- a future with a diverse offer of quality publications”.

The delegation was composed of
Peter Kraus von Cleff, FEP Vice-President
Piero Attanasio, FEP Board Member
Pierre Dutilleul, CEO French Publishers Association and former FEP President
Velizara Dobreva, President of the Bulgarian Publishers Association
Veerle de Laet, Managing Director of Leuven University Press
Pedro Sobral, Managing Director of Leya and delegate from the Portuguese Publishers Association
Catherine Blache, International Affairs, French PA
Dessislava Alexieva, Bulgarian PA
Anne Bergman-Tahon, Director FEP
Enrico Turrin, Deputy Director FEP