The Federation of European Publishers (FEP), a pan-European lobby that works on behalf of 29 different publishing associations, said that the publishing sector across Europe has already seen a 25% drop in anticipated revenue for 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis. The information was included in a letter to culture ministers, who are participating in an informal video conference on April 8 with the European Council to discuss measures to support publishing and other cultural industries.

"Yet, despite their serious financial and logistical difficulties, European publishers are supporting society in general as well as their communities with many initiatives during the crisis," Rudy Vanschoonbeek, president of the FEP, said in the letter.

The FEP asked Brussels to act fast in extending support for the industry, and asked the culture ministers to back a variety of proposals, including:

  • Requesting full support for the Creative Europe Programme as requested by the European Parliament, including a specific budget line dedicated to books.
  • Upgrading the Financial Guarantee dedicated to the creative sectors so as to cover the urgent liquidity needs of enterprises in the publishing value-chain.
  • Ensuring that any E.U. money earmarked to help address the crisis includes fund dedicated to the cultural sectors, including the book sector.
  • Financially supporting the entire book value chain to help it cope with the immediate effect of the crisis.
  • Stepping up public investments in buying books for institutions, particularly libraries in order to restore the sustainability of the sector.

Vanschoonbeek, who is founder and CEO of Belgian publishing house Uitgeverij Vrijdag and president of Vlaamse uitgevers Vereniging, closed with a direct plea to the culture ministers. "We often hear: books and culture are important for the future of Europe; they are a core asset of the European economy," he wrote. "Today is the time to demonstrate that the book sector is really a priority for Europe. We are counting on you."