By Simon Spillane, Head of Operations, The Brewers of Europe

Brussels and Strasbourg have been busier than ever in recent weeks as officials and MEPs scramble to wrap up their work before the European election campaigns start in earnest. But for us, this week also had an important order of business as the European Parliament Beer Club held a special event in Brussels – its last event of the current mandate – bringing together brewers and policymakers to discuss the future of beer.

The event came just days after The Brewers of Europe published its 2024-2029 Manifesto outlining what the beer sector wants to see the EU do over the next five years. I was honoured to share a panel with MEP Ivan Štefanec, the President of the European Parliament Beer Club, as well as Julia Leferman, Managing Director of the Brewers of Romania, as we discussed the challenges facing brewers as well as our hopes and expectations for the years ahead.

Our manifesto is a succinct and forward-looking document that sets out 7 asks of the EU over the next mandate. I won’t go into detail about it – it’s just one page though and you can find out more here – but will say that this is about beer’s intrinsic value to Europe’s economy, society and culture.

Beers bring people together like no other drink. We are the quintessential European beverage. We contribute massively to the economy, not just with the brewers themselves but everyone else along the value chain, from farmers to maltsters, packagers to transporters and onto retailers and the hospitality sector. Beer dates back around 7,000 years in Europe, with a rich history and heritage, and we continue to be part of the fabric of communities. Brewers are by nature innovators, concocting ever more brilliant flavours. And we are at the forefront of initiatives on sustainability and moderation.

One of the messages I gave at the panel is that Europe needs to sustain its position as a leading beer and brewing region. Beer is intrinsic to the European identity, all the leading beer styles originated here, the most famous brewing universities are in Europe and you’ll find European brewmasters’ names on the plaques above breweries in all corners of the world. By getting behind beer the EU can help Europe’s brewing sector continue to support local economies, empower consumers and champion sustainability.

MEP Ivan Štefanec was clear about the contribution of beer to Europe, going as far as saying that it is a role model for other sectors, offering choices for consumers and building bridges amongst communities. Julia Leferman talked about the importance of the brewing sector to Romania’s economy, adding that there was still more scope for brewers to collaborate even further with policymakers, along the value chain and across civil society.

After our panel, we were delighted to host a reception at the European Brewers House, next to the European Parliament, where our thirsty audience, having sated their hunger digesting our manifesto, could chat about the issues over – what else? – a glass of beer. As the EU marks the end of its term, we are looking ahead to the future of beer. Brewers are optimistic by nature: we see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Cheers!

Photos of the event