What is meant by market-linked securities?

9.5.2006   

DE

Official Journal of the European Union

C 110/1


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on "Tourism and culture: two forces for growth"

(2006 / C 110/01)

The European Economic and Social Committee decided on 14 July 2005 to draw up an opinion on the following subject, in accordance with Rule 29 (2) of its Rules of Procedure: "Tourism and culture: two forces serving growth."

The Section for the Internal Market, Production and Consumption charged with the preparatory work adopted its opinion on February 21, 2006. The rapporteur was Mr PESCI.

At its 425th plenary session on March 15, 2006, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 135 votes in favor, 1 against and 3 abstentions:

1 Introduction

1.1

Tourism is an important industry for the European Union, as it generates 5.5% of GDP through the activities of more than 2 million companies with around 9 million employees (the figures vary between 3% and 8% depending on the Member State) . Tourism is thus a powerful driving force for other economic sectors: starting with industry, especially those related to fashion, through agriculture and food industry to trade and other service sectors.

1.2

Over 80% of European tourism is made up of individual or family trips, the rest consists of business trips carried out by companies. European households spend around one eighth of their personal consumption expenditure on goods and services related to tourism.

1.3

Europe is still the most visited tourist region in the world. The European Union is seeing a steadily growing influx of tourists from Russia and China, where, thanks to economic development, the proportion of the population that has access to this type of consumption has risen rapidly.

1.4

Despite these generally positive aspects, European tourism is suffering more and more from the pressure that arises from competition from emerging countries. This own-initiative opinion aims to make the European institutions aware of the possible positive influence of culture on tourism in Europe and to ask them to make greater efforts to use and protect the cultural wealth of the old continent. The fact that this cultural wealth - in contrast to the trend in other industrial sectors - can neither be outsourced nor imitated, proves to be a very promising trump card in competition with other geographic areas.

1.5

In order to prepare this opinion, several meetings were held with those responsible from various Directorates-General of the European Commission dealing with tourism and culture and with some representatives of the European Parliament. In addition, a public hearing was organized on November 18, 2005 in Paestum - one of the most impressive archaeological excavation sites in Europe - attended by numerous representatives of political institutions, international organizations (UNESCO), cultural associations and private tourism companies. The hearing took place as part of the “Eighth Mediterranean Conference on Archaeological Tourism”, so that representatives of the southern Mediterranean countries could also take part.

2. New impetus for the Lisbon agenda

2.1

At the EU summit in March 2005, the Commission, the Council and the Member States were called upon to get the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs going again and to play an active part in achieving its targets. There is no question that tourism and culture can make a significant contribution to growth and employment. In terms of growth, tourism is one of the economic sectors for which above-average development prospects are predicted for the coming years: between 2006 and 2015, its annual average growth rate is likely to increase to an annual average of 3.1%. In terms of employment, too, tourism is a growth industry that can make a significant contribution to combating unemployment. And since the proportion of women workers in this area is very high, it can also contribute to the achievement of the specific objective of the Lisbon Strategy, which is to increase the female employment rate (1). Although the volume of tourism in Europe is expected to double in the next 25 years, its growth rate remains below the global average today, especially when compared with some regions in the new tourist countries. Active support in a suitable form can therefore further strengthen tourism growth, which would enable the European Union to move up to a top international position.

3. Cultural tourism

3.1

One of the areas of tourism with the highest growth rates is cultural tourism, i.e. tourism, which revolves around an interesting range of art, special landscapes, the cities of art and the areas that are characterized by a particularly high concentration of historical values ​​and local traditions. This statement is not intended to discuss the culture-specific topic in its entirety, but rather the possible influence of cultural aspects on tourism.

3.2

The European Union has a particular advantage in this special tourism segment because it is the area with the greatest “cultural density” in the world. In fact, 300 of the 812 cultural and natural monuments identified by UNESCO in 137 countries and included in the list of world cultural heritage are located in the 25 member states of the EU. If the four candidate countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey) are added to the current 25 EU countries, the number of these monuments increases to 331 (2). An important aspect came to light at the 2nd annual conference of the European Cultural Tourism Network (ETCN): the flow of visitors from China and India to Europe is solely due to the interest of the people in these countries in European cultural and architectural treasures. Therefore, the EU and the Member States must continue to invest in preserving their rich cultural heritage and promoting cultural tourism.

3.3

However, cultural tourism not only creates economic values, it is also important for the development of social and civic values ​​and for promoting integration and dialogue between peoples and cultures. The development of a European identity is inconceivable without a more thorough knowledge of the countries, the cultural traditions and the “differences” that make up the diverse European mosaic. In the current 'crisis of European conscience', the promotion of cultural values ​​in Europe can be a signal of optimism and confidence in the future of the Union (3).

3.4

In addition, especially in these difficult times for multiculturalism, the European Union must do everything possible to develop cultural and religious dialogue with other peoples, including by promoting cultural tourism. In this sense, it is particularly gratifying that the EU has decided to declare 2008 the “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”.

3.5

Expanding cultural tourism, i.e. bringing the historical and social context of European art assets to the fore and opening up the landscape assets, enables tourists from all countries to gain a real understanding of the cultural background of Europe.

4. The current engagement of the European institutions

4.1

For some time now, the European Union has been concerned with tourism and with the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, even if it has never been able to provide direct financial support for tourism activities due to the lack of a corresponding legal basis. Such a basis is now finally provided for in the draft of the new constitutional treaty, which, however, has yet to be ratified. So far, the EU has taken essentially horizontal measures to develop tourism potential: tourism has thus been promoted either through the use of the Structural Funds or indirectly through projects which, although affecting other sectors such as the environment or research, also benefited tourism . Despite this apparently positive circumstance, DG Enterprise and Industry (Tourism Unit) has difficulties coordinating its work efficiently with the other Directorates-General directly or indirectly involved in tourism. This could undermine the positive effects that each European initiative could have in this area.

4.2

With regard to the Structural Funds, the EU allocated around EUR 7 billion to projects directly or indirectly related to tourism and around EUR 2 billion to cultural projects (the Interreg III, Leader +, Urban programs) over the period 2000-2006. That amounts to a total of EUR 9 billion that is going to tourism and culture, but which nevertheless run the risk of not being used properly, as the level of coordination in the management of these two areas financed by the Structural Funds leaves a lot to be desired.

4.3

The European Capitals of Culture project is particularly successful among the initiatives launched by the European Union to promote cultural heritage. A study recently commissioned by the Directorate-General for Culture (4) shows that the European Capitals of Culture program leads to an average increase in tourism of 12% in the year of the event itself in the respective Capital of Culture and to a flow of tourists in the following year , which is well above the average of the years before the event year. According to the study, the event continues to have great growth potential but is not being fully exploited. That is why the Directorate-General for Culture has come up with a new proposal containing new and clearer criteria for the future selection of candidate cities, encouraging competition and imitation among cities, highlighting the European dimension and sustainability of cultural programs and, finally, disseminating good practice to promote in the administration of the cultural event. This proposal also calls for the European Union's current EUR 500,000 contribution to the city of “European Capital of Culture” to be tripled.

4.4

At the beginning of December 2005, the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control approved for the first time, in line with the objective of optimally promoting tourism and cultural potential, the provision of EUR 1 million to finance the development of a project to promote “European destinations of excellence”.

4.5

The Commission's Directorate-General “Enterprise and Industry” has set up a “Group for the Sustainability of Tourism” (TSG), which includes representatives of the institutions and the individual tourism sectors. The task of this group is to submit proposals for the implementation of sustainable tourism to the Commission with a view to drawing up a European Agenda 21 for tourism by 2007. The Committee agrees with the Commission and the European Parliament that only sustainable tourism should be promoted.

4.6

At the 5th European Tourism Forum in Malta on October 20, 2005, Commissioner Verheugen announced the launch of a “European tourism portal”, planned for early 2006, which would give access to the websites of national tourism associations in order to better communicate European tourism destinations to the rest of the world promote.

4.7

Finally, the Commission's DG Enterprise has recently started a study on 'The impact of cultural and sporting events on tourism-oriented SMEs', while DG Culture has launched a study on the cultural industries in Europe.

5. The commitment of the European Economic and Social Committee

5.1

The European Economic and Social Committee is aware of the importance of tourism for Europe and has long been concerned with specific issues in this area, such as tourism policy for the enlarged Europe, tourism and economic and social development, tourism and public-private cooperation, tourism and sport among others (5)

5.2

In addition to the two studies mentioned in Section 4.7, this statement on tourism and culture, like the aforementioned statements (cf. 5.1), is understood as a contribution to the definition of the future programmatic guidelines for tourism at European level.

6. Cultural awareness raising among citizens

6.1

In promoting cultural values, efforts must be made, in particular, to make local citizens more aware of the richness of the historical, artistic and landscape assets of their area (6). After raising awareness, they can make a valuable contribution to the protection and promotion of their own area and support the public authorities in this.

6.2

Such a wide-ranging cultural awareness must already be promoted in school, in the context of programs that bring young people closer to the historical, artistic and scenic wealth of their regions and actively involve them in its development (7).

7. Segments of cultural tourism

7.1

Effective promotion of cultural tourism, which also reaches “tourists who are not interested in culture”, presupposes the investigation and development of the various sub-areas of cultural tourism, while at the same time attempts must be made to identify further development tendencies and opportunities for the future. The main segments are: art heritage, events, exhibitions and performances, enogastronomy and rural tourism; "Film tourism" and cultural theme parks.

7.2 Art heritage

7.2.1

The most classic part of cultural tourism concerns the “material” art heritage, consisting of historical city centers, museums and archaeological sites. In this segment, the main focus is on promoting closer links between the management of cultural assets and the provision of tourist services in order to promote the use of these goods by tourists. Coherent “cultural tourism systems” must be considered, which must be managed according to holistic concepts. For example, it is important to promote joint administration in places with artistic and natural beauties, even if different public authorities or private institutions are responsible for campaigning for opening times and admission prices, with the help of which the accessibility of the places is optimized and the proceeds can be increased and thus the operating costs can be covered, or the cultural heritage can be "brought to life" by, for example, holding temporary exhibitions in historical museums, palaces or castles with a special focus on promoting contemporary art.

7.2.2

Interesting initiatives have been taken, such as the "tourist tickets" being tried out by various European cities, which combine transport services with entry to museums and archaeological sites.

7.2.3

The experience of the “cultural districts”, an integration of tourist and cultural services in homogeneous areas with several municipalities, which go hand in hand with a bundling of public and private financing and which are uniformly promoted, is particularly suitable for smaller art venues. In the Committee's view, regional tourism organizations should also participate in the development and creation of (including cross-border) cultural districts.

7.2.4

In addition, “networks” (8) or routes should be created to connect cultural assets in different countries, such as networks of castles or historical palaces, of archaeological sites (such as the network of cities of “Magna Grecia”) (9) or of special museums, such as company museums, or trans-European routes (10) such as the Via Francigena. These networks or routes and paths should have a uniform trademark, be signposted accordingly and advertised with an integrated concept. It would also make sense to offer services and accommodation that are as uniform as possible.

7.3 Events, exhibitions and performances

7.3.1

A second important part of cultural tourism are events: exhibitions, concerts, festivals and other special initiatives. In the last 10 to 15 years, cultural events have become effective factors in promoting tourism.The number of enthusiasts, especially young people, who set out to visit large exhibitions, attend concerts or attend special events such as those in more and more European cities - including Paris, Versailles, Brussels, Rome, and Vienna - is steadily increasing Warsaw - organized "Long Nights" to take part.

7.3.2

An improvement in this segment requires both infrastructure measures to build or redesign suitable locations for exhibitions or festivals, as well as planning, advertising and communication measures. The European Union could support the establishment of a uniform calendar of cultural events, promote cooperation between different countries and cultural institutions and, last but not least, promote measures in those countries with less experience and traditions in this field, starting with the ten new Member States.

7.4 Enogastronomy and rural tourism

7.4.1

A third important sub-area of ​​cultural tourism is related to the wine and gastronomy culture of the various areas: a branch of "material culture" that has become more and more important in recent years and that is a real cultural and economic movement to promote regional products Has called to life (11).

7.4.2

Here, too, the aim is to support the creation of “gastronomic and wine routes”, which also include artistic and cultural values, by promoting a joint offer of cultural visits, culinary delights and experiencing country life. Thus, getting to know the history of art and experiencing traditions relating to wines and dishes - those for a region or a specific geographical area - are combined.

7.4.3

The European Union could support the creation of a “European atlas of gastronomic and wine routes and rural tourism” by promoting, in particular, cross-border routes that bring the traditions of two or more countries together in order to, among other things, share the common roots that are the basis of many traditions and Form "differences" to bring them to light.

7.5 Film tourism

7.5.1

A fourth sub-area of ​​cultural tourism that is emerging as an important source of impetus for tourism is linked to film and television production. Visits to filming locations and locations where successful cinema and television films were shot are currently leading to an increase in guest arrivals and tourist stays in many regions. For example, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland (northern Great Britain), the location of the film adaptation of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rawling, experienced a rush of tourists that quickly poured EUR 13 million into the previously empty coffers and made the castle one of the most popular destinations in Great Britain. Agliè Castle in Piedmont experienced a similar experience in Italy, where the telenovela "Elisa di Rivombrosa" was recorded, which caused the average number of visitors to skyrocket from 100 to 3,500 per week. The celebrity effect also works with films that have not yet been shown but are about to be completed: in Great Britain, the small town of Lincoln, where Dan Brown's bestseller “Da Vinci Code” is filmed, has already become a tourist magnet. In Paris, travel agencies have even sprung up that only organize visits to the places mentioned in Brown's novel.

7.5.2

According to an English study carried out in the UK in August 2005, 27% of adults and around 45% of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are influenced by films they have seen in the cinema or on television in their choice of vacation spot. VisitBritain, the British tourism promotion agency, is closely following the film productions and publishes the movie map on its website, very detailed overviews that contain information on the locations of new films, the travel routes leading there and the tourist services offered on site.

7.6 Cultural theme parks

7.6.1

A fifth segment of cultural tourism could be linked to the establishment of art history theme parks to complement visits to museums, historic city centers and archaeological sites. The parks that may be close to well-known and renowned tourist destinations could be a tool for better understanding and “immersion” in the relevant historical reality (12). Similar parks could be created in the main European cultural areas (13), and the European Union could promote the development of the relevant infotainment structures (information and entertainment), which would give further impetus to tourism.

8. Use of new technologies

8.1

Establishing websites and satellite or digital television channels, using audio and video clips for last-generation cell phones, reconstructing monuments and art-historical spaces with the help of virtual reality techniques: the contributions made by the new information and communication technologies to the tourism development of cultural assets are just as varied can afford (14).

8.2

The new technologies could in particular be used for the sustainability of tourism and the protection of the most popular art sites that could be damaged by the onslaught of mass tourism: in fact, computer technologies can offer new possibilities of planning, monitoring and controlling the flow of visitors, combined with automatic control the environmental values ​​(for example the humidity in museum rooms) that could damage the works of art. Furthermore, the online booking and appointment system can facilitate the development of those sights that can only be visited by small groups of visitors.

8.3

Finally, it must not be forgotten that the new technologies can make a valuable contribution to the creation of structures and systems with the help of which architectural barriers - which are often insurmountable obstacles for people with disabilities - can be removed.

8.4

The European Union, which in the 7th Framework Program for Research and Development discussed how the application of research results can promote the tourism industry and develop cultural heritage, could create incentives for the concrete implementation of such measures by, if necessary, creating a list of the available Technologies and an overview of community-level best practices that can be used as a guide for tourism companies in different countries.

8.5

The use of technologies is important for the marketing of cultural tourism destinations in Europe, both inside and outside the Union. In this area too, an inventory should be made of the current activities in the various countries. The European Union could set up a “European Tourism Portal” and set up a satellite-based TV channel to promote European tourism in third countries.

9. The problem of cultural property management and the training of employees

9.1

An efficient system of tourist development of the cultural heritage raises the problem of the management of cultural assets: These are either public (state or municipal) property or are owned by church organizations, associations or private individuals. The situation is particularly delicate in some of the new Member States, where coercive nationalization measures in recent decades have led to legal uncertainty with regard to property rights and, in particular, to inadequate conservation of numerous cultural objects.

9.2

It is important to promote administrative models that, even if they preserve the current ownership structure with regard to art and cultural assets and offer the greatest possible guarantees for the protection and preservation of them, allow a coordinated management of the individual cultural tourism systems and at the same time - also by means of suitable tax incentives encourage the participation of public and private investments.

9.3

The European Union could undertake a review of the administrative systems currently in place in each country in Europe to determine their effectiveness and support their diffusion in the other countries, or innovative systems to encourage cooperation between public and private actors in management, including in Relationship with the tax systems - propose.

9.4

Associated with the problem of administration is that of training the employees who are responsible for the cultural assets and nowadays have not only art-historical skills but also management and marketing skills and must be familiar with the new technologies. This also applies to those who are in direct contact with tourists (hoteliers, business people, public administrators, etc.) who not only need to have language skills, but also have to be trained in "savoir faire" and in respect for cultural differences in tourism should be. Again, the European Union could capture the most mature training experience in this area to encourage exchanges of experience, benchmarking initiatives and the dissemination of good practice, thus boosting quality tourism.

10. Integration between cultural tourism and other areas of tourism

10.1

An efficient management of cultural tourism can also have positive effects on the other tourism segments, from spa tourism to mountain tourism to business tourism and senior tourism.

10.2

The presence of themed routes about art, exhibitions, concerts, festivals or wine-related and gastronomic establishments can positively influence tourists when choosing certain bathing or mountain resorts in Europe and help the latter to compete against holiday resorts in the new tourist countries. Because although these are competitive in terms of natural resources and low prices, they can hardly offer cultural attractions that are equivalent to those in Europe.

10.3

Similarly, in business tourism, the possibility of combining the business trip with a cultural tourism experience can encourage you to extend the trip itself for several days (e.g. to include Saturday and Sunday) and give rise to the thought of turning the trip into an extended family vacation together with the To convert spouse and / or children.

10.4

In view of the considerably increased life expectancy of the European population, cultural tourism gets along well with the needs of a senior citizenry, who are increasingly deciding to engage in education and getting to know new cultures. This development is also in line with the need to promote tourism in the off-season.

10.5

The European Union can certainly act as a driving force and impetus for these measures aimed at promoting integration between cultural tourism and other tourism segments.

11. Conclusions and suggestions

11.1

In view of the potential positive effects of culture on the development of tourism and, above all, in view of the fact that tourism is not only a driving force for other economic sectors but also to a considerable extent for the achievement of the objectives of "growth" and "employment" within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy, this opinion aims - as already mentioned - primarily to provide the European institutions with additional information on the promotion of this sector. The European tourism industry is still developing dynamically, but is increasingly exposed to competitive pressure from non-European countries.

11.2 Communication and Integrated Promotion

11.2.1

For the purpose of an efficient development of European cultural tourism, improved information and integrated support measures for Europe and European goals are required. At the same time, best practices of protection, development, management and training need to be promoted. The "European Tourism Portal" can certainly be of great use in this regard if it meets the following requirements:

Indeed, the portal must be supplied in a uniform way by the tourist offices of the Member States with concrete, practical and constantly updated information;

Careful information about national and trans-European networks and routes regarding cultural tourism destinations and their promotion must also be made possible;

It must also help industry operators to find out about the latest best practices in the management of cultural tourism systems and assets, the development of initiatives and events and modern training for the relevant staff;

the portal must contain information processed at European level, such as a European calendar of cultural events and an atlas of gastronomic and wine routes and rural tourism;

coordination and synergy between the European tourism portal and the European cultural portal must be guaranteed.

11.3 Promoting best practice through competitions and awards

11.3.1

Best practices in the management of cultural tourism services could be promoted by the European Union through competitions and awards programs under its own programs, starting with the European Capitals of Culture (15) and the future Excellent European Destinations Program. The EU could also provide advice to cities and areas wishing to apply to participate in these two programs, making an increased financial contribution compared to the current support and possibly allowing preferential use of the Structural Funds. At national level, on the other hand, healthy competition should be encouraged between cities and cultural tourism sites applying under the two programs, following criteria set at European level. For the European Capitals of Culture program, these criteria relate to: administrative systems, public-private cooperation, integration of tourist and cultural services, promotional activities and information on events, etc .; for the program "Excellent European Destinations" on: sustainability, extension of the travel season, elimination of bottlenecks, administrative systems, public-private cooperation, integration of services, etc.

11.4 Promotion of intercultural dialogue

11.4.1

The promotion of intercultural dialogue, both within the EU - particularly with a view to future enlargement by four applicants for membership - and between the EU and other regions of the world, should be a priority goal of the cultural tourism programs. From this point of view, as I said, it would make a lot of sense to proclaim 2008 the “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”. Nevertheless, a number of projects should also be started before 2008, e.g. aimed at schools and extending international exchange programs such as ERASMUS to secondary schools or promoting partnerships between school classes from different countries. Specific projects to promote dialogue between cultures could also be designed for seniors. As a result, 2008 could become a “showcase” for the initiatives already underway and provide impetus for further initiatives.

11.5 Creation of a European tourism agency

11.5.1

The EU does not have any direct working structures in this area as there is no legal basis in this regard. Europe should therefore take steps to strengthen administrative coordination to support current and future tourism development programs. The Committee is in favor of setting up a European tourism agency as soon as possible, while always respecting the principle of subsidiarity. Such a body could act as a European observatory for tourism, one of the purposes of which would be to provide the Union and the Member States with reliable and comparable information and data on tourism. This proposal was made in a previous own-initiative opinion on "Tourism and sport: the future challenges for Europe".

11.6 Promote political coordination of cultural tourism activities

11.6.1

The Committee welcomes the proposals made by Commissioner Verheugen at the 4th European Tourism Forum in Malta, which can also be found in the resolution recently adopted by the European Parliament (16), on the coordination of the various Community initiatives with an impact on the tourism sector of the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry transferred to.

11.7

This opinion is referred to by the Committee as the "Declaration of Paestum" in the light of the public hearing held in November 2005 at the fascinating archaeological site in southern Italy.

Brussels, 15 March 2006

The president

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Anne-Marie SIGMUND


(1) According to data from the ECTN (European Cultural Tourism Network), cultural tourism benefits three areas of the Lisbon Strategy: employment growth, productivity and education. The ECTN, established in 1993, aims to promote cooperation between the various segments of cultural tourism and is financially supported by the European Union.

(2) According to UNESCO (UN Organization for Education, Science and Culture), the cultural and natural sites are distributed among the 25 EU countries as follows: Austria 8, Belgium 10, Cyprus 3, Denmark 4, Estonia 2, Finland 6, France 30, Germany 31, Greece 16, Ireland 2, Italy 42 (including 2 sites in Vatican City), Latvia 2, Lithuania 4, Luxembourg 1, Malta 3, Netherlands 7, Poland 12, Portugal 13, United Kingdom 26, Czech Republic 12 , Slovakia 5, Slovenia 1, Spain 38, Sweden 14, Hungary 8 (it is also possible to attach the detailed list of monuments).

(3) EUROPA NOSTRA (European association for cultural heritage, which is committed to the preservation and enhancement of the cultural heritage in Europe and to which 40 European countries and over 200 associations for the preservation and enhancement of the cultural heritage belong) takes the view that the European Cultural heritage is an important element in developing and promoting European identity and citizenship.

(4) Palmer / Rae Associates, International Cultural Advisors, “European Cities and Capitals of Culture”, study commissioned by the European Commission, August 2004.

(5) The EESC has dealt with tourism related issues including: "Tourism policy for the enlarged EU", "The contribution of tourism to the economic and social recovery of areas in decline" and "Tourism policy and public-private cooperation", rapporteur : Mr. MENDOZA CASTRO; "Tourism and sport: future challenges for Europe", rapporteur: Mr PESCI.

(6) In Antwerp (Belgium), for example, entry to the city museums is free for all residents.

(7) For example, some interesting initiatives have been launched in Italy: the association FAI (Italian Fund for the Environment) promotes the opening of little-known or generally inaccessible buildings every year at the beginning of spring and encourages young people to enter encourage local schools to become “guides for a day” and explain the buildings to visitors.

(8) The Fortress Cities Network is an interesting initiative, thanks to the network of 17 historical sites established by the regions of Kent (United Kingdom), Nord-Pas-de-Calais (France) and West Flanders (Belgium) , the valuable common cultural heritage of this area has been opened up.

(9) As suggested in the public hearing in Paestum on November 18, 2005 by some tourism officials from the Campania region (Italy) and Greece.

(10) Of the numerous interesting initiatives, the following are to be singled out:

“European Route of Brick Gothic”: Seven Member States (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), 26 cities and two regions are involved in this project.

“European Path of Jewish Cultural Heritage”: The program was awarded by the Council of Europe and received the title “Great Cultural Path of the Council of Europe” (December 5, 2005).

(11) Among the numerous initiatives to promote typical regional products, “Slow Food” is particularly noteworthy, an international association founded by Carlo Petrini, with currently 83,000 members, branches in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, France, Japan, the United States Kingdom and representations in 122 countries. Slow Food is against the standardization of taste, advocates the right of consumers to be informed and protects cultural identity in connection with culinary and gastronomic traditions. Probably the most characteristic European routes in terms of promoting regional products include the whiskey routes in Scotland, the only route in the world exclusively dedicated to malt whiskey, the “Trappist beers” route in Belgium and the Netherlands, the oyster routes in Brittany, etc.

(12) An interesting example is “The Malta Experience”, an approximately one-hour film showing about the history of the island from its origins and its inhabitants, which also gives young visitors an excellent understanding of the reality that surrounds them.

(13) In addition to the excavation site of Pompeii, the creation of a virtual park about ancient Pompeii would be conceivable, which could depict the everyday life of the city and perhaps even recreate the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that led to its destruction. A similar park could also be created in Waterloo, Belgium, among others, which could help tourists understand the course of one of the most famous battles in history.

(14) The Congress "Cultural Tourism - A Challenge for European Integration" sponsored by the Luxembourg Presidency in April 2005 gave some interesting examples of the application of new technologies - such as the use of palmtops - which require constant knowledge of the area being crossed enable (the example mentioned referred to the Via Francigena pilgrimage route).

(15) Until 2005, this program was based on government agreements.

(16) European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2005 on the new perspectives and challenges for sustainable European tourism.


9.5.2006   

DE

Official Journal of the European Union

C 110/8


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the "Report on Competition Policy 2004"

(SEC (2005) 805 final)

(2006 / C 110/02)

On June 17, 2005, the European Commission decided to ask the European Economic and Social Committee, in accordance with Article 262 of the EC Treaty, for an opinion on the following submission: “Report on competition policy 2004”.

The Internal Market, Production and Consumption Section, charged with preparing the work, adopted its opinion on February 21, 2006. The rapporteur was Mr MALOSSE.

The committee adopted at its 425th plenary session on 15./16. March 2006 (meeting of March 15) with 138 votes against 1, with 2 abstentions, the following statement:

1 Introduction

1.1

For a long time, the competition policy of the European Union was considered to be the core of European integration and an acquis that could not be questioned. During the discussion on the Constitutional Treaty, however, questions have been raised about a policy aimed at ensuring “free and undistorted competition”. Following the reform of the instruments used to control cartels and the abuse of dominant positions, the European Commission launched an action plan to reform the state aid rules. The presentation of the 2004 report gives the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) the opportunity to reflect in detail on the objectives and methods of Community competition policy, particularly in relation to