Last week, EIBF’s Policy Advisor, Daniel Martín Brennan, travelled to Strasbourg to follow the European Parliament’s plenary session in representation of the European bookselling sector.
During four days every month, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) travel from Brussels down to Strasbourg to debate and vote on key policy files which they have engaged with over the course of months in their respective committees and help define the European Parliament’s position on given topics.
This month was an especially eventful plenary session, as European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, addressed the European Parliament in her annual State of the Union speech (and the last one in her mandate), outlining the European Commission’s key priorities in the coming months. Equally important, MEP Tomasz Frankowski (EPP)’s report on the future of the European book sector was also on the plenary agenda, with a scheduled debate and the final vote for adoption.
It was, therefore, a perfect occasion for EIBF to be present representing the European bookselling sector. Keep reading to follow our trip!
Day 1 - State of the Union (SOTEU) and debate on future of the European book sector
On Wednesday morning, European Commission (EC) President, Ursula von der Leyen addressed MEPs during her last State of the Union speech before the end of her mandate in 2024. The speech summarised some of the key accomplishments under her leadership and highlighted some of the Commission’s key priorities, such as the digital and green transition and European competitiveness.
The European Green Deal continues to be a key priority, both personally and the European Commission, as von der Leyen reiterated that no business will be left behind in their journey to decarbonisation.
As for SMEs and competitiveness, the EC President hailed the DSA and DMA as crucial achievements, which will help secure a fairer & safer digital space, where rights are protected and Big Tech is held accountable.
Von der Leyen also acknowledged that complex regulations and administration are a burden to SMEs, and promised to appoint a dedicated EU SME envoy towards the end of this year, which will report directly to her, conveying SMEs’ everyday challenges and needs. She also vouched to make the first legislative proposals next month towards reducing reporting obligations at the European level by 25%.
Later in the afternoon, we held a fruitful exchange with MEP Ibán García del Blanco (S&D) and his assistant. MEP Garcia del Blanco is an active supporter of the European cultural and creative industries, including the bookselling sector. We discussed many topics, including the relevance of a dedicated report on the book sector, key points for the bookselling sector included in the report, some of which are addressed through our RISE Bookselling project’s Industry Insights papers.
That same night, at 22:00, during the last debate of the day, MEP Frankowski (EPP) presented the report in front of the plenary room, hailing the report as the first active effort by the European Parliament to address the book sector’s needs in over 10 years.
Other MEPs also took the floor to welcome this support and some, namely Ibán García del Blanco (S&D), Massimiliano Smeriglio (S&D) and Diana Riba i Giner (Greens/EFA), highlighted the unique role and contribution of booksellers to their local communities and in promoting reading.
Day 2 - Vote on future of the European book sector
In the morning, we met with MEP Tomasz Frankowski (EPP)’s assistant, to congratulate them on the report and once again reiterate the value and timeliness of such a report for the book sector. At the same time, we discussed other relevant issues for the sector, such as the planned budget cuts for Creative Europe and the RISE Bookselling sector.
Soon enough, the report was voted and adopted by a large majority of MEPs in the European Parliament, sending a clear and strong message: protect books and support all the pillars of the European book sector, including bookshops.
You can find our reaction to the vote in a dedicated article on our website.
As seen with the practically unanimous vote, many MEPs across the policy spectrum welcomed the adoption of this report, including Irish MEP Grace O’Sullivan (Greens/EFA), who highlighted the great work of Bookselling Ireland and featured a list of Irish bookshops she has visited over the years. We took a picture with MEP O’Sullivan to thank her for her support
And with that, our trip to Strasbourg came to an end. We might be leaving Strasbourg, but the work from Brussels continues!