The European Exhibition Industry

- welcomes the EU Digital Covid Certificate and urges all European countries to restore and maintain safe travel for business purposes at any time 
- calls for recognising and involving trade fairs and other professional events as the key instrument for green and digital transformation of all industries


Industry and business communities need live exhibitions and events
As vaccination campaigns are advancing fast and additional safeguards like Covid tests and health protocols are widely available, it is high time for companies and R&D communities to resume their most efficient way of meeting and doing business.
While the exhibition and events industry has proven rapid development and adaptation of sophisticated digital tools for events to bridge the phase of the pandemic – it has become evident that digital cannot replace face-to-face in any way. Networking, serendipity and above all finding new clients, creating trust and closing deals does not work online at a large extend.
Industries need their live platforms for networking, knowledge exchange, benchmarking, marketing and selling. Additionally, in-person events will be complemented more systematically by digital offers around the year, thus increasing the effectiveness for the users.

The exhibition sector needs clear opening perspectives and timelines to serve the business communities in a reliable way
Validated and proven safety measures and technologies are in place for travelling, in the hospitality sector and for exhibitions and events like the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate and other similar international certificates, approved protocols and safety seals for events and the hospitality sector. Travellers for business purposes are disciplined and responsible. However, not everywhere local authorities provide clear perspectives and the intra-EU and international travel rules still lack coordination, thus impeding any reasonable planning for organisers and attendees. As a consequence, exhibitions are still being cancelled for the autumn due to insecurity. Exhibitions have lead times of min. 4-6 months up to often more than one year. EEIA calls for business travel to attend exhibitions and professional events to be qualified essential travel and be kept open at any time – within the EU and globally.

Europe may permanently lose market share to other regions in the world
While this situation persists in Europe, market shares may be lost to other regions and markets, where exhibitions can be held since months like in Asia, the Middle East or recently the US. Before the pandemic, Europe was the leading exhibition market in the world, hosting almost all international leading events of each industry. It finds itself in a weakened position today. A key asset for Europe’s economy and competitiveness threatens to be lost when it is most needed.

Exhibitions are the key instrument to implement and accelerate transformation towards sustainable and digital economies
As we are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic, it is urgent to give a massive push for fundamental green and digital transformation of our economies and societies. In order to implement the Paris Convention to prevent climate change and to achieve the EU‘s climate goals the necessary changes need to be kicked-off and implemented as quickly as possible. The EU has an extraordinarily ambitious programme and timeline.
In parallel, as a consequence of the pandemic, Europe works on strengthening its Single Market resilience and reducing its strategic dependencies by diversifying supply chains and supporting new industrial alliances.
To address and realise these major projects in a short time frame, platforms like exhibitions, congresses and other types of professional events will play a major role. They need to be strengthened and involved systematically in EU and Member States government programmes. Without a competitive exhibition sector and leading exhibitions and professional events in Europe the necessary transitions will be less efficient and much slower. 

Barbara Weizsäcker
Secretary General
European Exhibition Industry Alliance (EEIA)
European Major Exhibitions Centre Associations (EMECA)

Kai Hattendorf
UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry

Background Information
About EEIA
The European Exhibition Industry Alliance represents nearly 400 European exhibition organisers and venue operators in Brussels to the European institutions and stakeholders. These trade fairs and exhibition players are organised in UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and the European Major Exhibition Centres Association EMECA. 
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You can download the Position Paper here.