Folder Governance & Policy

This page contains information on:

1. The European Tourism Sustainability Cluster Policy

2. European Policies for SME Support

  About   Training  Coaching  Certification Market Place Clustering 


1 Cluster Policy & Mission Statement

The European-level Going Green 2030 Tourism Sustainability Certification Cluster has been established in the ETGG2030 COSME project, bringing together territorially-based stakeholders interested in tourism sustainability certification as part of the development of their efforts to create and participate in a European green circular economy. 

The European level cluster is being built in different stages, linking all ETGG 2030 national- and regional-level clustering activities into a European stakeholder information framework on Tourism 2030.   The principal aim of the clustering process is to support SMEs and destinations by ensuring the post-project implementation of the Going Green 2030 SME sustainability innovation, training and implementation system in their region.

The ETTG Consortium is partnering through the clustering approach wiith other COSME TourCoup Projects who are also providing similar SME support services. we will be offering, including:

  • Improved resource efficiency of European SMEs in ECCP clusters;
  • Support for green entrepreneurship through hands-on technical advice and support;
  • Best use of opportunities for greener and more efficient value (supply) chains; and
  • Facilitated market access for green SMEs within clusters.

The mission of the European-level tourism sustainability certification cluster is to support the post-project implemetantion of the Going Green system across the European territory on a member-state basis, with regional implementation when appropriate, ensuring European-wide collaboration to avoid duplication of work and improve cross-border synergies between business support organisations and higher education institutes - and other stakeholders  - interested in tourism Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG12) and working with SDG 17 Collaborative Partnerships fully in mind when facing the challenges of Agenda 2030 implementation.


Cluster stakeholders can read below about the EU policies that can bring valuable resources to your SMEs and territories when you join together to realise projects related to  SME sustainability policy implementation.


2. European Policy Supporting Tourism SME Development

1.1    Policy Guidelines and Strategies for the Development of Sustainable Tourism

The European Union has positioned itself as a global leader in sustainable tourism, but it is the overall sustainable development strategy that provide an overarching policy framework for the European tourism sector to be developed in a sustainable and responsible manner. This report restricts itself to identifying those policies that specifically relate to MSME (Micro Small & Medium Enterprise) sustainability. Furthermore, it takes into account the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastation of the industry, seeking to emphasise practical measures tourism stakeholders can take to support the European MSME transition from unsustainable practices to greener and more socially equitable economic performance.

Owing to the many and diverse sectoral and thematic issues related to sustainable tourism, relevant policy guidelines and strategies are produced by several directorates, following almost two decades of economic, environmental and culturally-oriented policy lines that link the EU to the UN global agenda for sustainable development (originally conceived as Agenda 21 in 1992 and now reformulated in 2015 as the 2030 Agenda with is widely published 17 Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]). Europe has embraced these goals and strives to reflect them in the renewal of existing policies that are applicable to the current socio-economic climate.

For the purposes of this (ETGG2030) report, the EU’s contemporary overarching guidelines and strategies are best viewed via the implementation of three current key pillars of EU policy interventions at this point of the 2030 Agenda, namely:

  • the European support for the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,
  • the European Green Deal and
  • the EU’s Post-Covid-19 Recovery Funds.

All three give guidance to member states on how national stakeholders apply the EU’s  structural funds set aside for European regional development, and other EU sector- or thematic-specific programmes which have been fully augmented by the EUs socio-economic  support strategies for its sectors,  regions and citizens.

Additionally, there are several cross-cutting sectoral and thematic policies that affect tourism SME recovery opportunities, and readers of this report should be well aware of the multiple sustainability implementation opportunities of combining tourism with all other economic sectors in order to use sustainable tourism development as a vector of overall sustainable development. Policies for tourism sustainability can involve key regional policies as well as sector and thematic issues. The following list offers a non-exhaustive range of policy areas that can be combined with planning and implementing sustainable tourism activity.


  • agriculture farming and food policy
  • communications - application of the digital knowledge economy
  • construction – built environment and spatial planning
  • energy – circular economy and renewables
  • transport – inter modal systems
  • education and training for entrepreneurial development



  • environmental concerns regarding climate change and biodiversity,
  • labelling and certification
  • social inclusiveness
  • trans-boundary developments in the EU

 A selection of policies and initiatives covering these issues are highlighted in more detail in the following section on activities and instruments for sustainable tourism, where this report attempts to bring together EU guidance that will allow tourism SMEs to recover from the sudden and unforeseen collapse of the sector in March 2019 at the outset of the global pandemic, when border closers, citizen lock downs and restrictions.

The following section identifies and lists  key policies that can be used by destination and business administrators and civil society to formulate national, regional and local approaches to MSME support. The name, source, date, reference and a brief description are given for each policy.


Covid-19 Recovery

Name of Policy: Establishing a European Union Recovery Instrument to support the recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis

Source of Policy: Council Regulation

Date of publication: 14.12.2020

URL link to policy source:

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘The support under the instrument established by this Regulation (the ‘Instrument’) should in particular focus on measures to restore labour markets and social protection as well as health care systems, to reinvigorate potential for sustainable growth and employment and support their transition towards a green and digital economy, to provide support to businesses affected by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as support for investment in activities that are essential for strengthening sustainable growth in the Union including direct financial investment in enterprises, measures for research and innovation in response to the COVID-19 crisis, for capacity building at Union level to enhance future crisis preparedness, for maintaining efforts to ensure a just transition to a climate-neutral economy, and support for agriculture and development in rural areas in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.’

This plan aligns all the following instruments and polices to meet the immediate pandemic crisis whilst also continuing to develop medium- and long-term sustainability through the following policies:


Sustainable Development Policy

Name of Policy: Next steps for a sustainable European future: European action for sustainability

Source of Policy: Commission Communication

Date of publication: 22.11.2016

URL link to policy source: COM (2016)739

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘The circular economy (SDG 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) offers a transformative agenda with significant new jobs and growth potential and stimulating sustainable consumption and production patterns. Focus on resource efficiency and minimising waste in a context of rapid global resource depletion gives the EU a competitive edge and stimulates innovation. It creates local jobs, at all skills levels and with opportunities for social integration. The transition to the circular economy offers a chance for Europe to modernise its economy, making it more future proof, green and competitive.’


Name of Policy: Key European action supporting the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals

Source of Policy: Commission Staff Working document

Date of publication: 22.11.2016

URL link to policy source: SWD (2016) 390 final

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘With its circular economy package, the EU aims to address economic and environmental concerns by maximizing efficiency in the use of resources, covering the whole value chain and through innovation, thereby enabling the development of new markets and business models. As such it contributes to sustainable economic growth.’

NB The overarching sustainable development policy line  has recently been updated in the  EU Sustainable development report 2020

(Source of Policy: Institute for European Environmental policy

Date of publication : December 2020  

URL link to policy source:


Name of Policy: Setting up the multi-stakeholder platform on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU

Source of Policy: Commission Decision

Date of publication: 22.05.2017

URL link to policy source: C (2017) 2941 final

Brief description in relation to SME green development

‘The multi stakeholder platform provide a forum for exchange of experience and best practice on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals across sectors and at local, regional, national and Union level, where stakeholders can engage in debates about sustainable development and provide information about related successful initiatives, mobilising expertise of key sectors.’


Environmental Policy

 Name of Policy: The European Green Deal

Source of Policy: Commission Communication

Date of publication: 11.12. 2019

URL link to policy source: COM (2019) 640 final

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘The EU has the collective ability to transform its economy and society to put it on a more sustainable path. It can build on its strengths as a global leader on climate and environmental measures, consumer protection, and workers’ rights. While the circular economy action plan will guide the transition of all sectors, action will focus in particular on resource-intensive sectors such as textiles (including tourism), construction, electronics and plastics. Reliable, comparable and verifiable information also plays an important part in enabling buyers to make more sustainable decisions and reduces the risk of ‘green washing’. Companies making ‘green claims’ should substantiate these against a standard methodology to assess their impact on the environment, setting circular economy standards, including efficiency standards and standards for less waste and greater re-use. An expansive view of circularity might suggest that it comprises transformations towards sustainable energy and jobs as well as towards sustainable food, land and ocean. The Circular Economy Action Plan sets the right priorities covering product design, production, marketing, waste and recycling. It aims to integrate a broad range of existing policy instruments, including the Ecodesign Directive, the EU Ecolabel, and EU Green Public Procurement criteria.’


Name of Policy: Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy

Source of Policy: European Commission Communication

Date of publication: 02.02.2015

URL link to policy source: COM (2015) 614 final

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘The circular economy will boost the EU's competitiveness by protecting businesses against scarcity of resources and volatile prices, helping to create new business opportunities and innovative, more efficient ways of producing and consuming. Food waste takes place all along the value chain: during production and distribution, in shops, restaurants, catering facilities, and at home. Addressing the measurement issue is an important step towards a better understanding of the problem, a coherent monitoring and reporting as well as effective exchange of good practices across the EU. Awareness campaigns are needed to change behaviour. The Commission supports awareness raising at national, regional and local levels and the dissemination of good practices in food waste prevention.’

Climate Change & Tourism

  1. Name of Policy: Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition Investing in a climate-neutral future for the benefit of our people

Source of Policy: Commission Communication

Date of publication: 17.09.2020

URL link to policy source: COM (2020) 562 final

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

Achieving 55% greenhouse gas emissions reductions will require actions in all sectors, including tourism. EU policies have been put in place, or are being reoriented to contribute to the ‘do no harm’ principle and the transition to climate neutrality. Mainstreaming of climate policy objectives into other EU policies is a key enabler and will allow for an inclusive transformation based on a just transition. EU citizens, businesses and social partners require increased certainty and predictability on the pathway towards climate neutrality. Therefore, the Commission is amending its proposal for the first European Climate Law30 today, adding a 2030 target of at least 55% net greenhouse gas emissions reductions compared to 1990.


  1. Name of Policy : Climate friendly travel

Source of Policy : Annual ambitious report : Baseline 2020 for climate neutral 2050

Date of publication : September 2019

URL link to policy source :

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘To drive the agenda forward, goals and ambitions at the global and sector level are essential. With this in mind, SUNx will produce a Registry of Climate Friendly Travel – an inventory of climate neutrality systems used by the international community generally and by Travel & Tourism organisations specifically to move to a 1.5°C target in 2050. The Registry will show community and company plans for greenhouse gas reduction as well as changes over time while the annual report will highlight good practice examples of systems and programmes’.


Name of Policy: A Clean Planet for all A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy

Source of Policy: Commission Communication

Date of publication: 28.11.2018

URL link to policy source: COM (2018) 773 final

Brief description in relation to SME green development

The transition also requires further scaling-up of technological innovations in energy, buildings, transport, industry and agriculture sectors. It can be accelerated by breakthroughs in digitalisation, information and communications, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. The expansion of new systems and processes, with cooperation across sectors, is also required. A good example of such system-oriented approaches is the circular economy, which will harness a range of advanced solutions and foster new business models. It will also require cooperation at different levels among regions and among Member States to maximise synergies by pooling resources and knowledge together.


 Name of Policy: Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action

Source of Policy: Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Date of publication: 11.12.2018

URL link to policy source: Official Journal of the European Union L 328/1

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

Article 11 - Multilevel climate and energy dialogue- Each Member State shall establish a multilevel climate and energy dialogue pursuant to national rules, in which local authorities, civil society organisations, business community, investors and other relevant stakeholders and the general public are able actively to engage and discuss the different scenarios envisaged for energy and climate policies, including for the long term, and review progress, unless it already has a structure which serves the same purpose. Integrated national energy and climate plans may be discussed within the framework of such a dialogue.


Environment – Biodiversity

Name of Policy: LIFE Programme for Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)

Source of Policy DG Environment LIFE-2021-2024

Date:  July 2021

URL:  Circular Economy and Quality of Life - Standard Action Projects (SAP) (LIFE-2021-SAP-ENV)

Nature & Biodiversity - Standard Action Projects (SAP) (LIFE-2021-SAP-NAT)

The LIFE Programme  covers both Nature and Biodiversity and s climate change though measures taken to create the circular economy: ‘The aim is to facilitate the transition toward a sustainable, circular, toxic-free, energy-efficient/climate-resilient economy and toward a toxic-free environment as well as to protect, restore The LIFE Programme also covers Nature and Biodiversity and improve the quality of the environment.’

Tourism Sector-Specific Policy

Name of Policy: EU strategy for sustainable tourism

Source of Policy: European Parliament Resolution

Date of publication: 25.03.2021

URL link to policy source: (2020/2038(INI))

Brief description in relation to SME green development

‘The EU Parliament calls on the Commission to encourage Member States to temporarily set reduced VAT rates on travel and tourism services, accompanied by a special stimulus package for all micro enterprises and SMEs for the 2020-2024 period to foster the transition towards a more digital and sustainable tourism ecosystem. Furthermore it calls on the Commission, together with the European Investment Bank, to establish sufficient dedicated support for the decarbonisation of the tourism sector, for digitalisation and for innovative projects, and the conditions of access for micro enterprises and SMEs to InvestEU, so that new skills can be acquired and more quality jobs created and notes that their uptake requires adequate funding for tourism establishments, in particular micro enterprises and SMEs.’


NB Please note there is a full tourism funding online guide at

This online guide highlights the wide range of funding programmes financed by the new budget, Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, and Next Generation EU. With these resources and this guide, we're supporting the move towards a more digital, sustainable and inclusive EU. The guide will help you find appropriate funding. It contains links to relevant EU programme websites with the latest developments (such as annual work programmes or call for proposals) and further details per programme. For inspiration, you can also see concrete project examples funded by previous EU programmes.’


Regionally-based Cluster Policy

Name of Policy: Recommendation Report

Source of Policy: Commission Communication – European Expert group on cluster development

Date of publication: 2021

URL link to policy source:; Homepage | European Cluster Collaboration Platform

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘Many traditional SMEs are less successful in adopting green business models than larger companies. They suffer from limited capacities, resources, time and available knowledge to invest and deal with the related regulations and standards. At the same time, many innovative SMEs have a strong potential to develop breakthrough green solutions, but they often have difficulties in finding the right financing and partners Clusters can be useful in helping SMEs to meet the above challenges. They can support SMEs in finding the right funding in terms of debt (loans, guarantees) and equity instruments. They can assist in opening the doors to new markets (both within Europe and globally), and in partnering with multinationals and large corporates to develop demonstration projects of their green solutions. Clusters can also help innovative SMEs exploit the business opportunities based on the increasing demand for green products, technologies, services and business models


Transport Policy

  1. Name of Policy: Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond

Source of Policy: Commission Communication

Date of publication: 13.05.2020

URL link to policy source: COM (2020) 550 final

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

Within the sustainable and digital transition, SMEs will need particular attention. As announced in the recent SME Strategy, the Commission will work with networks across Europe such as the Enterprise Europe Network, the European Clusters Alliance and European Digital Innovation Hubs to support sustainability and digitalisation and help local tourism companies become more resilient and competitive. This requires cross-sectoral linkages, interdisciplinary knowledge flow, stronger connections and capacity building to ensure accelerated uptake of product, services and process innovations. These networks shall also connect tourism with other industries to accelerate uptake of new solutions, foster crosssectoral investments in tourism ecosystem with ICT, renewable energies, health and life sciences, agri-food, maritime, cultural and creative industries, including the media sector.


Trans boundary, Cross-border Policy

  1. Name of Policy: Europe's moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation

Source of Policy: Commission Communication

Date of publication: 27.05.2020

URL link to policy source: COM(2020) 456 fina

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

Europe must focus on enhancing its strategic autonomy, economic security and potential for job creation. The Commission is proposing a new Strategic Investment Facility to support cross-border investments to help strengthen and build European strategic value chains. It will incentivise European industrial and business leadership in a number of key ecosystems, notably those linked to the twin green and digital transition. This will strengthen the Single Market, underpin the new EU industrial strategy4 and contribute to a more circular economy.



Certification, labelling and benchmarking

  1. Name of Policy : Reference document on best environmental management practice - BEMP, sector environmental performance indicators and benchmarks of excellence for the tourism sector under Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community ecomanagement and audit scheme (EMAS).

Source of Policy: Commission Decision

Date of publication: 15.04.2016

URL link to policy source: Official Journal of the European Union L 104/27

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘Environmental management system implementation BEMP is to undertake an assessment of the most important direct and indirect environmental aspects associated with the organisation, and to apply relevant performance indicators and compare with relevant benchmarks of excellence. Applicability This BEMP is applicable to all tourism actors, including destination managers, tour operators, accommodation providers, food and drink providers, transport operators and activity providers. This BEMP is also fully applicable to small enterprises.’


Name of Policy: Research for TRAN Committee - European Tourism Labelling

Source of Policy: European Parliament- TRAN Committee

Date of publication: 2018

URL link to policy source: Research for TRAN Committee - European Tourism Labelling - Think Tank (

Brief description in relation to MSME green development

‘Quality labelling in the EU Currently, there is no database on quality labelling schemes in the EU. Based on the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) study for the EC, it is reasonable to estimate that there are up to 100 labels related to quality in the EU, covering aspects such as culture, recreation, hygiene, and other elements along the quality value chain. Quality labels have been created in the tourism sector both by public authorities and by private organisations. It is possible to identify some general trends in the criteria for quality labelling. These tend mainly to concern services provided rather than organisational issues, with customer satisfaction surveys seen as very important in improving quality standards. Human resource policies are also seen as a significant element of the criteria for quality labelling.


Name of Policy : The implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan

Source of Policy : European Commission Report

Date of publication : 26.1.2017

URL link to policy source : COM (2017) 33 final

Brief description in relation to SME green development

Food waste is a key area in the circular economy and should be addressed at many levels along the value chain. The Commission launched a stakeholder’s platform on food waste prevention, made progress in developing an EU methodology to measure food waste, and prepared EU guidelines to facilitate food donations and the use former foodstuff as feed. The platform will be the key forum at EU level to support all players in identifying and taking actions needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals commitment to halve food waste per capita by 2030. It gathers 70 members representing public authorities and all actors along the food value chain, including food banks and other NGOs