Dear Madam President Von Der Leyen,
Dear Madam Commissioner Gabriel,
Desperate times call for desperate measures; and we are undoubtedly living historic days in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It is already evident that the coercive measures and panic due to the disease are causing serious, currently incalculable and lasting damage to the world economy. The outbreak primarily affects industries and economic sectors that rely on travel, entertainment and servicing of the masses. Circus art, which has also recently been forced to close its doors to the public, is also regarded as a part of tourism. Due to the steps that had to be taken as a result of the coronavirus, stone and traveling circuses throughout Europe have suspended their tours and performances.
In the past period, we have been conducting daily consultations with the affected family businesses, asking for detailed data and damage assessments. The situation is more than tragic. There are thousands of circus companies operating in the European Union, most of them family businesses that provide for the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and give home to thousands of circus animals. It is no exaggeration to say that the precautionary measures against the coronavirus cause a long-term loss of revenue that threatens the very existence of countless businesses. In contrast to many other businesses, circus still is predominantly a seasonal business. After the winter, reserves have literally been eaten up (not only by the circus people, but also by their animals) or invested in new equipment. Therefore, the virus hit the circuses at the worst possible point in time. Their only income is from ticket sales. If these have to be stopped, circuses directly run into debts.
The European Commission has recently announced that it will provide € 37 billion in investment aid to Member States, along with € 8 billion in loans to some 100,000 companies in the most vulnerable sectors, i.e. retail, tourism and transport. As a Member of the European Parliament and First Vice-Chair of the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism, together with the Heads of the European Circus Association and Fédération Mondiale du Cirque, we call on the President of the European Commission, the coronavirus operative commissioners and the Commissioner for Culture Mariya Gabriel to give priority to the most vulnerable sectors of the economy during compensations.
We propose that the European Commission provide tourism operators, including cultural institutions and therefore circus businesses, with substantial funding proportionate to their damage. They need immediate help to survive the transition and to protect their jobs as well as the health and the lives of their circus animals. In this situation, every minute counts, not only for the survival of businesses, but for the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, the lives of thousands of animals with special needs and a 250-year-old European art industry that deserves special attention.
If necessary, we will provide you with exact data and statistics. We ask you to start a substantive discussion as soon as possible on the feasibility of compensation.
We look forward to your kind reply,
dr. István Ujhelyi MEP
Member of the European Parliament
Vice-Chair of the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism
Honorary Ambassador to Fédération Mondiale du Cirque
President of Fédération Mondiale du Cirque
Managing Director of the European Circus Association