Prodi urges speedy intensification of European cooperation and innovation to create global champions from Europe

Posted on Friday 13th October 2017

The General Assembly of EMECA, the Association including 22 out of the most important European fairgrounds, took place in Bologna on 12 and 13 October 2017. In 2017, EMECA celebrates its 25th Anniversary. It is an important moment of exchange at which the members discuss the main economic data, the crucial aspects, the main strengths and weaknesses and challenges.

At this special occasion, Prof. Romano Prodi held a key note speech. “Companies in Europe need the strengths of exhibitions as market instruments, Europe is highly competitive in this sector.” At the same time, he urges speedy cooperation on political and industry level to create powerful clusters to become global market leaders.

„The European trade fairs industry faces three main challenges today: firstly, digitization of the economy, secondly responding to the very diverging economic development in different economic regions in the world and thirdly the changes in political and security circumstances. We are willing to take responsibility and to contribute to improving the framework conditions by representing the interests of the European trade fair organisations and making their voice heard”, states Claude Membrez, EMECA President.

Members are convinced of the active role they have to play in bringing together the international trading community. The EMECA exhibition centres strive to provide exhibitors and visitors with an excellent infrastructure and first-class information networks. In Europe they play an active part in the development of local trade. Out of the 33 biggest exhibition companies in the world 28 are located in Europe.

EMECA is an important economic factor in Europe and today is stronger than ever. The European Major Exhibitions Centres Association was founded in 1992 by 13 Members with two principal aims - to contribute to the general development of the exhibition industry and to improve the management of exhibition centres and services. Today, it unites 22 EMECA venues that host and organize nearly 1.900 trade fairs a year worldwide, out of which nearly 1.500 in at their home venues in Europe on a gross rented space of around 40 million sqm.

“1.900 trade fairs per year translate into 36 trade fairs per week. 40 mio sqm represent 5714 soccer fields sold per year! This is nearly equivalent to the estimated number of soccer fields in Italy”, explains Claude Membrez.

The EMECA exhibition venues welcomed roughly 420.000 exhibitors and over 41,6 million visitors in 2016. EMECA witnesses a growth in turnover of all its Members in 2016 compared to the previous year of 3 %. According to their own estimates, the exhibiting companies generate a turnover of over 1 trillion Euros through exhibitions.

As a result of a successful and growing exhibitions sector in Europe, EMECA members will be investing up to 3,5 billion Euro in the future of the exhibition business. Basically these investments are being made in the context of three key areas.

Firstly, exhibition space in Europe keeps growing. In addition to continuing refurbishment, many EMECA venues are investing in new halls. Some of these will replace older halls, but a considerable number of EMECA Members are adding additional indoor exhibition- and multifunctional space to their premises.

Secondly, state of the art technology continues to be installed across all infrastructure and service application areas. This includes: digital equipment, such as digital signage and wayfinding, electronic ticketing services and new entrance solutions. Improving logistics is a high priority for all members, and include digital access and delivery controls, steering of traffic and parking.

Thirdly, around 100 new trade fairs are being implemented in 2017-2018, half of them in Europe, half of them outside Europe in international growing markets. This proves substantial market potential in Europe while in parallel, most European organisers continue to set up trade fairs, for example South East Asia and Latin America.

“After 25 years, we can say that in every phase of its existence, EMECA has tackled the most relevant and current industry developments. The Members of this extraordinary network have achieved impressive growth in both venue quality and international business. This is largely thanks to their combined efforts to increase quality standards, along with the positive business environment, which has been marked by the implementation of the EU Internal Market and impressive business expansion through globalisation during these last 25 years”, Claude Membrez adds.

“On behalf of UFI it is my pleasure to congratulate the European Major Centres Association to its 25 years and I am especially proud that UFI and EMECA work jointly and successfully in the European Exhibition Industry Alliance in Brussels”, emphasises UFI President Andreas Gruchow (and Member of the Board of Deutsche Messe AG, Hanover).

"It is an honor to host this important Assembly in Bologna”, says Giampiero Calzolari, President of BolognaFiere, “Bologna, like other cities, is facing international competition. Being part of EMECA allows us it is very useful to exchange information, trends and discuss on strategic developments in the exhibition sector. From our experience, the higher the digitalization and the greater the speed of online relationships, the more the need for real experiences is emphasized: for this reason, trade fairs continue to grow, and our venue keeps on offering real business opportunities to exhibitors, buyers, professionals involved in the various sectors.”


The 22 EMECA venues host and organise 1.900 trade fairs a year globally, out of which 1.500 in Europe on a gross rented space of nearly 40 mio sqm. They welcome roughly 420.000 exhibitors and over 41,6 mio visitors. According to their own estimates, the exhibiting companies generate a turnover of some 1 trillion Euros through exhibitions.

The EMECA Board 2017

Claude Membrez, EMECA President (Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland)

Andreas Gruchow, Vice President Treasurer (Deutsche Messe AG, Hanover, Germany)

Peter Ottmann, Vice President Communication (NürnbergMesse, Germany)

David Boon, Vice President EU Relations (Brussels Expo, Belgium)

María Martinez, Vice President Strategy (IFEMA Madrid, Spain)

Maurits van der Sluis, Vice President Technical Affairs (RAI Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Giorgio Contini, Vice President Digital Business (BolognaFiere, Italy)

Barbara Weizsäcker, EMECA Secretary General


Business Beyond Borders

BBB is a European Commission-funded initiative which helps EU businesses to expand regionally and globally. By implementing matchmaking events at international trade fairs around the world, European businesses can benefit from this opportunity to grow across borders with a complete package of professional support. To find out more visit the Business Beyond Borders website at


The EMECA Members


Brussels Expo


KoelnMesse, Deutsche Messe (Hanover), Messe Frankfurt, NürnbergMesse,

Messe Stuttgart


EUREXPO – Centre de Conventions et d’Expositions de Lyon,



BolognaFiere, Fiera Milano, Rimini Fiera, VeronaFiere

The Netherlands:

RAI Amsterdam

Royal Dutch Jaarbeurs Utrecht


Poznan International Fair


Feira Internacional de Lisboa


Expocentre Moscow


MCH Group (Basel, Zurich, Lausanne), Geneva Palexpo


Fira de Barcelona, IFEMA – Feria de Madrid, Feria Valencia


Press and media contact

EMECA General Secretary

Ms Barbara Weizsäcker

Rue de l'Amazone 2

B-1050 Brussels

Tel +32 25357250


Download the press release here