The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) has made a plea to the European Commission to support the industry through the coronavirus pandemic. Rudy Vanschoonbeek, president of the FEP wrote in a letter, "These are difficult days for the entire profession and for our partners; I think of our authors, the booksellers and the librarians. We are calling on the European Union and the national governments to ensure proper support for the book sector so that we can continue to share good stories, educational content, etc. United, we will stand stronger."
The FEP noted that book publishing is among Europe's largest cultural sectors and accounts for annual revenue of €22-24 billion and employs 150,000 people directly, and as many as a million indirectly through the entire supply chain.
"The impact of the current crisis on the cultural industries is unprecedented and more severe than in other economic sectors, for a very simple reason: culture is built upon social relations in bookshops, cinemas, theatres, museums," wrote Vanschoonbeek. "The measures to limit the spread of the epidemic consist essentially of reducing such relations. Publishing is hit hard by the health crisis and it will take a number of supportive measures to sustain a thriving sector able to contribute to the economy and society in general."
Specifically, FEP asked for guaranteed loans from banks, and increase in the European Union's budget to support cultural enterprises, as well as a plan on how to support the publishing sector in the near term and in the future. Among the areas of focus the FEP asked the EC to prioritize were the finalization and implementation of rules governing copyright and the development of a fair single European market for digital content, including the creation of infrastructure for rights data management.
"It is essential to move quickly: the effect of the crisis is immediate, with sources of revenues and cash flow suddenly stopped, which implies a severe liquidity shortage to the sector," concluded Vanschoonbeek. "Our sector needs both immediate measures, from the existing EU budget, and medium-term measures to allow the industry to restart once the situation changes."