“Political gambling fuelled by nationalistic conceit has deceived many in the UK, diverting attention from the dire consequences that might follow. Seeking one-sided, populist solutions to our common European challenges must end now! Despite the predictable losses Britain is strong enough to remain a solid economy, while I am certain that the EU will find a way to respond in unity and with even greater cooperation between its members. In the absence of an imperial background and without an independently robust economy, Hungary has no alternatives: only a stronger EU can guarantee peace and prosperity. Our European project is at a crossroads as founding members of the union will likely propose an overhaul of the community. Hungary must stick with them to avoid the looming dangers of growing putinism. We have made the wrong decision far too many times during history, let’s learn the lessons of the past finally.”
dr. Istvan Ujhelyi, MEP Vice-President of the Hungarian Socialist Party
S&D Group member Istvan Ujhelyi and Renaud Muselier from the EPP have submitted their joint political proposal to the European Commission. The proposal tabled by the Hungarian and French politicians aims at the strategic development of the European tourism sector by harnessing the huge potentials of this flourishing industry. Their paper suggests – similarly to the European Capital of Culture programme – the establishment of the “European Capital of Tourism” title to be awarded to a maximum of three EU cities or regions annually, based on the decision of various representatives of the tourism industry, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Committee of the Regions. After discussing the final details of the project in Marseille, Mr Ujhelyi received his plaquette awarded by the Provence-Alpes- Côte d’Azur region, and the two politicians proceeded to a joint press conference presenting the European Capital of Tourism plan itself.
Mr Ujhelyi and Mr Muselier both underlined that the tourism sector is the third largest in Europe, providing some 25 million jobs and contributing to the European economy by a whopping 350 billion EUR a year. “Tourism industry generates nearly 10% of the EU’s GDP, and the proportion is expected only to grow in coming years. Even the global financial crisis did not seem to halt the influx of visitors: last year alone more than 455 million tourists visited Europe. At the same time, global challenges like terrorism call for even more careful strategic thinking in developing the tourism sector, what we like to call the ‘industry of peace’” – explained Mr Ujhelyi.
According to Renaud Muselier this new project can significantly improve the accessibility and quality of local and regional tourism, strengthening the role and the cooperation between the cities involved.
“The award should be based on a specifically tourism related programme, which must have a strong European dimension to it. The programme must be part of a comprehensive long-term strategy having a sustainable impact on local and regional tourism. In order to receive this title it is crucial that the eventual “European Capital of Tourism” presents a unique and innovative programme to promote their respective region from a tourism-related aspect.” – said the French MEP, adding that when Marseille was European Capital of Culture in 2013, they hosted more than 11 million guests, just like Pécs in Southern-Hungary profited immensely from the title as more than one-third of it hotel rooms were booked out permanently.
Both Mr Ujhelyi and Mr Muselier are members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, with the Hungarian MEP being the Vice-President of the committee. Mr Muselier worked as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, while Mr Ujhelyi was Chair of the National Tourism Committee, and coordinated developments in the tourism sector in Hungary as Secretary of State. Moreover, Mr Muselier has an interesting Hungarian connection in his pedigree: his grandfather, Émile Muselier, Admiral of the French Navy in the Second World War, is the nephew of the Budapest-born Géraldine Apponyi, the last queen of Albania.
“We are at a crucial crossroads in the history of the European Union; instead of disintegration, we need greater cooperation and unity – said Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament following his meeting with Istvan Ujhelyi, socialist member of the EP from Hungary. The pair met to discuss current issues on the political agenda. Istvan Ujhelyi added: the Hungarian socialists remain devoted promoters of a responsible and credible politics towards the EU. Ujhelyi also presented his European initiative on tourism, growth and jobs, which the President met with great interest and promised to support.
On Wednesday, the Europe China OBOR Culture & Tourism Development Committee was officially launched at the China Cultural Center in Brussels. Over a hundred people had the privilege to attend this inauguration in the presence of the members of the Committee and other high-level guests.
On the evening of Wednesday 27 April, the opening ceremony of the OBOR Committee, which will work in order to develop the culture and tourism cooperation between Europe and China, was held at the China Cultural Center in Brussels.
Chaired by MEP István UJHELYI, Vice President of the Committee on Transport and Tourism at the Parliament, the OBOR Committee aims to create a high-level network between European and Chinese partners with extensive experience in diplomacy, business and politics. It also puts a strong emphasis on culture and tourism in the framework of the “One Belt One Road” project. Bernard DEWIT, Chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, exercises the role of Secretary General of the Committee while Eduardo SATANDER, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission, is Board Member of the Committee.
Among the high-level guests were included H.E. YANG Yanyi, Ambassador of the Chinese Mission to the European Union, and Tibor NAVRACSICS, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. According to him, “contacts between people are playing an increasingly prominent role in the EU-China relations. It is only by improving contacts between our people and civil societies that the EU and China will bond closer ties.”
The OBOR Committee promised to place a focus on culture and tourism in the framework of the OBOR project. “This Committee aims also to promote EU-China cooperation by being the European pillar of the Chinese initiative One Belt One Road. I am convinced that this new platform, gathering politics, business and the professionals from tourism and culture, could create and participate in very valuable projects.” said István UJHELYI. That event provided the opportunity for the enterprise Atlas International Culture to demonstrate its strategic partnership with the OBOR Committee, a collaboration that should result in future joint projects and promote EU-China relations.