EEA: EUROPE UNITED IN THE HORSE BUSINESS
In September 2021, a new equestrian trade association, the European Equestrian Association (EEA), will hold its inaugural meeting at the Koelnmesse exhibition centre. RB spoke with initiator and founder Stefan Schwanbeck.
Mr Schwanbeck: there are various associations in the field of equestrian sports and business. Why do we need the EEA?
Schwanbeck: I have been studying the international networks of the equestrian industry for about two years. During this time, I have identified many good structures, but above all the need for a European organisation. The horse as an economic factor is turning over billions of dollars on a worldwide scale, with the origin and centre lying in Europe as regards tradition, brands and structures. Great Britain and, above all, BETA play an exemplary role in this. However, since Brexit, it has become necessary for manufacturers, distributors and associations based at mainland European to get themselves organised. Only a coordinated large number of businesses can work at eye level with politics and TV media. The horse as an economic factor not only accounts for more than 700 thousand jobs
and 2.5 million hectares of used land in the EU, but also generates a turnover of around 100 billion euros. Of course, the economy indicator varies from one member country to another, but it is immensely important in our culture. Due to the European development, I think there should be a stronger emphasis on and interconnection of this industry with sport and breeding
associations, which will make consumers familiar with the qualities of the European brands and structures.
There is a wealth of standards/guidelines when it comes to equestrian equipment. You are striving for extra EEA labels. What are the benefits for future EEA members?
Schwanbeck: BETA has managed to create, over the years, a brand that supports and engages retailers and consumers in the UK and beyond. Working groups in the various sectors, such as transport, stable and pasture technology, equestrian equipment, specialist
media, feed and care, equestrian travel, retail, hoof care, etc. will work out the respective EEA criteria for their own quality label. The companies acquire the seal which will be jointly promoted to the consumer. This creates a bond with the consumer, who will profit from a guaranteed high level of quality.
What are the plans for cooperating with the BSI or the affiliated companies?
No one will be excluded, we look forward to co-operation and collaboration, invitations will be issued shortly. Especially since the pandemic, we have to be careful not to lose our base and the next generation. Some sectors such as the textiles or travel industry
and tour operators have suffered considerably. And that is where an association can push and help significantly.
Why do you see spoga horse as the “home base” for the new association?
Schwanbeck: Spoga horse has repositioned itself with a new team, ideas and concept. I had the chance to take part in a workshop to help revitalise and realign the Cologne location and the date of spoga horse. Spoga horse is becoming even more international and modern and, in addition to classic equestrian equipment, is also opening up to other sectors such as stable construction, travel, feed, transport, etc. Therefore, this event is the ideal annual meeting place for the association. Annual meetings, working groups, elections, awards etc. can be held there in parallel and ensure visitors for all exhibitors.
What is the initial reaction among European companies, associations?
Schwanbeck: So far, I have been able to talk to possible members from Holland, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark and
Poland and have received positive answers. A working group consisting of six people, including a lawyer, a professor from the University of Applied Sciences Nürtingen, the possible head of the office, a well-known editor-in-chief as well as representatives from the industry, will be established, who will work out a basis for addressing members and associations as well as the foundation phase.
Whom can interested companies contact at the moment?
Schwanbeck: For the time being, I am the contact person. I will hand over the day-to-day business after the formation of the office
and the association in September.
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Source: PferdeSport International