Members of the European Parliament get hands on experience at one of Europe’s oldest breweries
Strasbourg, 9 July 2015 – The Brewers of Europe and Brasseurs de France welcomed Members of the European Parliament to the METEOR brewery just outside Strasbourg yesterday. Seizing the opportunity of a rare moment between votes, a cross-party delegation of MEPs from 9 countries came to see the brewing process first-hand and better understand the craftsmanship and innovation that goes into brewing Europe’s favourite drink.
The visit allowed MEPs from across the political spectrum a rare opportunity to get up close to the policy issues most affecting Europe’s brewers. Currently in the EU we brew around 38 billion litres of beer each year, with around 100 different beer styles and an estimated 40 thousand different brands on the market. Contributing over €50 billion each year to GDP and also generating over €50 billion in tax revenues for EU governments, beer also makes a large contribution to the European growth agenda. In times of high unemployment, it is also important to recall that beer alone secures 2 million jobs in the EU, from the farmers cultivating the cereals and hops to the bar staff serving the beers.
Beer is also a key part of European heritage, with the beer culture a key factor in many tourist visits to Europe. Founded in 1640, METEOR brews 9 different beers, employs close to 200 people and has an annual turnover of €40 million. As brewers depend on supportive legislation to ensure a competitive European beer sector, this visit was a key opportunity for MEPs to understand the impact policies can have at the local level.
The European Parliament Beer Club was established in 1995 and is a cross-party, transnational forum for exchange amongst MEPs about issues affecting the brewing sector. The EP Beer Club membership currently counts over 90 MEPs and it is hoped that such activities can help to grow the cross-party membership even further. With beer brewed in every single EU Member State, the Club also has an ambition to include MEPs from across the whole of Europe.
Michel Haag, 7th generation brewer, President of the METEOR brewery, current Vice President of Brasseurs de France and former Vice President of The Brewers of Europe, said: “It was a pleasure to be hosting so many Members of the European Parliament in our brewery. For me and for the thousands of breweries across Europe, this is sending a clear message that Europe cares about its brewing sector. We count on the European Parliament to ensure fair policies that support a competitive and sustainable beer sector in Europe. It was a great honour that MEPs took precious time out of their busy schedules to visit my brewery, to experience brewing first hand and to understand the issues faced by brewers in Europe.”
Renate Sommer, MEP and President of the EP Beer Club, said: “As part of the activities organised within the EP Beer Club I was really keen to visit a brewery so that my colleagues and I could get a clear understanding of the brewing process. It was great to see so many fellow MEPs, from all over Europe and from across the political landscape. Thanks to Mr Haag, MEPs could see the natural ingredients, the craftsmanship and the importance of innovation for brewers. Within the EP Beer Club we recognise the contribution that beer makes to Europe’s culture, to its society and to its economy. After the visit of the METEOR brewery, I hope the European Parliament now also has an even better insight into the issues faced by brewers in Europe, giving a tangible context to the legislative debates we have in the Parliament.”
François Loos, President of the French Brewers association, said: “Recent years have seen a flourishing of breweries on the French beer market, reflecting a trend that is taking place across Europe. Whilst the numbers of breweries in Europe is now estimated at around 6000, there are currently over 700 breweries active in France. Alongside brewery dynasties such as METEOR, many of these breweries are new businesses, contributing to the diversity of beer tastes, colours and styles that are making for such fascinating times on the European beer scene.”
Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe, concluded: “We were delighted with such a strong turn-out. If we are to ensure a competitive brewing sector, it is vital to Europe’s brewers that decision-makers have the opportunity to experience the brewing process in the same way we do. It is wonderful to see this tour so well-attended and with such enthusiasm!”