EU Commission chief is now positive about ‘smart’ summer holidays

Contrary to her cautious approach a week ago, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen now says she is positive about having a vacation this summer – in a “smart” way.

“I think we will find smart solutions to have some vacation, perhaps a bit different, with other hygiene measures and a bit more with social distancing. It’s impressive to see that we find a solution and therefore I am positive about summer vacation,” von der Leyen told Portugal’s SIC TV channel in an interview.

She said it is hard to predict what next month will look like but “what I see is that we start to learn to live with the virus”.

A week ago, though, the Commission chief advised EU citizens not to make summer vacation plans for the time being because no one could predict how the pandemic would evolve in July and August.

This statement obviously disturbed southern European countries, whose economies heavily rely on tourism. The European Tourism Manifesto alliance called on the EU executive last month to take immediate measures to mitigate the impact on tourism.

Italy could lose up to €4.5 billion in tourism revenue this year. For Greece, tourism accounts for around a fifth of its economy and more than a quarter of jobs, while in Portugal, the sector contributed 14.6% to gross domestic product in 2018.

No cuts in cohesion

Von der Leyen also said Europe “is not collapsing” and pledged for an increased EU budget for the period 2021-2027, which will have no cuts for cohesion policy.

“For sure no cuts in cohesion. This is absolutely clear because it is also logical. We will have a way bigger European budget,” she told SIC.

“More cohesion is not important only for Portugal but for all member states because it makes sure that we have a functioning single market and all member states are benefiting from the single market. That makes us strong, that gives us prosperity,” she added.

[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos]

Subscribe to our newsletters