You'll find in this section and below a library of resources (mostly) produced by EuroCommerce by type and in chronological order. If you are looking for resources related to a certain subject, issue or policy area, browse our policy areas section.
Contribution to the consultation on the Start Up Initiative20 Jul 2016
EuroCommerce welcomes the consultation on the “Start-Up initiative”, which we see as an opportunity to renew a commitment to SME appropriate legislation and give SME policy more visibility. On this basis, we call on the European Commission to address through this consultation the needs of all types and sizes of SMEs and not only technology start-ups and fast growing firms, which only represent a minority of businesses.
EuroCommerce publishes position paper on agriculture18 Jul 2016
EuroCommerce published a paper to clarify the role of retail and wholesale in the food supply chain, and their relationship with the agriculture sector.
To download the paper, please click here.
Retail and agriculture18 Jul 2016
1. Retailers fully recognise the present difficult circumstances of farming. The economic sustainability of the agriculture sector is an essential part of the food supply chain, along with retailers and all other actors which make it possible for food to reach consumers.
2. The current crisis results from overproduction. It is structural, with deeper roots in the present global situation in milk production, the Russian boycott and sluggish Chinese demand. Retailers understand the difficulties encountered and have taken numerous steps to show solidarity through the crisis. However, the crisis is the result of factors that retailers cannot influence and require structural and culture change in the agriculture sector.
3. The food supply chain is increasingly sophisticated. The vast majority of products undergo many stages of processing, each adding value. Retailers have few direct relationships with farmers and make a small net profit margin (1-3%). Other distribution channels, for instance exports, further processing, catering and hospitality, account for a significant share of the milk produced, so retailers’ influence over milk prices is negligible. We encourage policy makers to take a holistic view on the functioning of the entire food supply chain and avoid too much focus on one sector.
4. No small retailer deals directly with a large supplier; they source from a joint purchasing alliance or a wholesaler. In the same spirit, we support stronger organisation of farmers as key to a better-performing supply chain which can better deliver for farmers. We also call for a reduction of unnecessary administrative and financial burdens which add to farmers’ production costs and hold them back from a more entrepreneurial approach to agriculture.
5. Proposed solutions such as full price transparency, and other forms of intervention in the distribution of value-added will do nothing to help strengthen the position of farmers in the supply chain. Price transparency at product category level helps generate a better understanding of the process of value creation in the chain, but has to respect competition rules. Furthermore, information about the final price of a processed product will do little to help farmers negotiate better prices with their direct buyer, as prices depend on conditions in the market in which they operate and the degree to which intermediaries add value or costs.
6. Similarly, regulating contractual practices at EU level will not deliver the protection that farmers seek. Freedom of contract and of negotiation should remain a key principle in business-to-business relations. In practice, retailers have very few direct contracts with farmers. Most countries have regulation and enforcement mechanisms; they are different but all seek to achieve the same outcome. The Supply Chain Initiative and other related initiatives are a useful mechanism to make fair practice become the norm and encourage operators to resolve their disputes in a way that facilitates continued business relationships.
7. Retailers needs a diverse agriculture sector that understands consumer demand better. Large scale production caters for the large volumes of standard commodities. Smaller producers help meet individual consumer demand for specific products (local, organic, healthy, etc.); they also help retailers differentiate. Consumers are prepared to pay more for products which offer added-value. Retailers can help smaller producers respond to consumer demand and in practice have developed numerous initiatives to support smaller farmers.
8. Finally, we believe that structured supply chain dialogue, either through inter-branch organisations or similar structures can benefit everyone in the supply chain. These make it possible for sectors to share information about market trends and allow farmers respond to market signals, to the benefits of all parties.
European retailers taken aback by discriminatory Polish retail tax07 Jul 2016
Speaking today, EuroCommerce Director-General expressed regret and surprise at the decision of the Polish Parliament to follow a trend of discriminatory measures across Central and Eastern Europe, by adopting a new retail tax, aimed mainly at foreign retailers:
“We see a clear policy direction in Central and Eastern Europe, with governments adopting laws favouring local retailers and suppliers over foreign businesses, undermining competition and local consumers’ interests. This latest law will simply deter foreign competitors from investing, and undermine their contribution to providing choice and innovation in the Polish economy, and end up with Polish consumers footing the bill.”
The retail tax is structured in a way that favours local businesses: large foreign retail chains will end up paying a disproportionately large part of the new tax. In the food retail market, a foreign retail chain will pay up to 5 times more tax than a local chain. The tax is clearly discriminatory, and the European Commission should as soon as possible investigate whether the tax is consistent with EU law.
Retail taxes have been proposed recently in Hungary, Poland and Romania, along with laws seeking to make it more difficult to sell foreign products and regulate business relationships in unrealistic and unreasonable ways. Most of these are targeted principally against foreign retail chains.
EU Competition Commissioner Vestager recently completed an investigation in a similar case, (details here) under which the Hungarian government levied a progressive food chain inspection fee. The Commission considered that governments had the right to levy taxes, but that such taxes “should make sure that all companies are treated alike so that the contributions are levied on non-discriminatory terms.” The law was suspended once the Commission started its investigation.
Christian Verschueren added: “Governments should stop introducing policies that clearly breach EU law and the spirit of the Single Market. These might be politically expedient in a way that national governments can blame the European Commission when it takes action to condemn the law. However, in the end, these laws harm local competitiveness and consumers.”
EuroCommerce will investigate the possibility to file an official complaint if, and when, the law is enacted.
Background note for editors/writers
The modern retail sector has invested over €100 billion in the region since the accession of CEE countries to the EU. The sector has been modernising shops, investing in logistics, supporting suppliers, introducing high quality and safety standards and new products. It provides over 400,000 jobs and has opened over 8,000 new stores, offering consumers a wide range of quality products - of which some 70% is locally sourced – at affordable prices
The Polish tax only applies to physical retailers:
- Those with a monthly turnover of less than 17 million Zloty (3.8 million Euros) are exempt from the tax
- Those with a monthly turnover of 17-170 million Zloty (3.8 - 38 million Euros) would be subject to a 0.8 % tax
- Those with a monthly turnover exceeding 170 million Zloty (38 million Euros) would be subject to a 1.4 % tax
This means that the 10 biggest foreign food retailers will pay 95.3% of the total tax, while the 10 biggest Polish food retailers will pay 4.7% of the tax. For each 1% of turnover, foreign food retailers will pay 5 times more tax than a local food retailer. Franchise operations are treated as separate companies. Most are therefore exempt from the tax. Online sales are also exempt.
For further information, please contact:
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Every Meal Matters - European food banks and business organisations join forces to promote food donation29 Jun 2016
FEBA (European Federation of Food Banks), FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce launched this morning a new guide to encourage and make it easier for food manufacturers and retailers to donate their food surpluses to food banks.
With around 88 million tonnes of food wasted annually in the EU, preventing waste in the food chain is a key priority for food and drink manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers.
The new guidelines give practical and straightforward answers to questions that businesses wanting to donate food have, such as ‘Which surplus food can we donate’?, ‘Can I donate food that has passed its ‘best before’ date?, ‘Who can I donate to?’ or ‘Which info on my food donations do I need to document’?
“We need to recover more nutritious food to support more vulnerable people and better. I hope than an increasing number of food businesses will adopt those guidelines and engage with our food banks to take proactive steps to support those experiencing poverty”, declared Patrick Alix, Secretary General of FEBA.
Mella Frewen, Director-General of FoodDrinkEurope, said: “Of course, we need to tackle the root causes of food waste first and foremost, all along the food chain. However, when food surpluses do occur, we all agree they should be redistributed as much as possible to food banks. With these very practical guidelines, we are simply turning our words into action and encouraging more food companies to best use their surpluses.“
“We are all committed to making sure that wholesome and nutritious food is not wasted. Not only do our members donate to food banks and other social organisations; many of them help food banks and charity organisations with logistics,” Christian Verschueren, Director-General ofEuroCommerce added. “These very useful guidelines show how best to donate food, and many examples of good practice. We hope that these will inspire others to follow the path many retailers and wholesalers have already adopted.”
The joint guidelines contribute to the ongoing EU and global policy discussions on food waste prevention and stimulating the circular economy. They are also part of the initiating organisations’ strong commitment and ongoing efforts to supporting the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030.
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1 FoodDrinkEurope is the organisation of Europe’s food and drink industry, the largest manufacturing sector and employer in the EU.
2 FEBA is the European Federation of Food Banks, with 265 food banks in 23 countries, serving 2.9Mil meals/day.
3 EuroCommerce is the principal European organisation representing the retail and wholesale sector, the largest private sector employer in the EU.
For further information, please contact:
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - email@example.com
Click here for Food Donation Guidelines publication.
Shaping the Future of the Services Industry: the all-important role of the social partners28 Jun 2016
The origin of European social dialogue lays in the EU’s decision to address the social and
economic issues arising from the creation of a EU single integrated market through the
involvement and consultation of management and labour (Art. 154f). Social dialogue has been the cornerstone of the social dimension of the single market.
The services sectors, that we represent, are the backbone of Europe’s economy. They have
proven to be the guarantor for (future) growth and job creation as well as Europe’s
competitiveness in the world. Our social dialogues are key instruments for developing quality services and quality jobs. At the same time, technological advances, such as digitalisation, blur the boundaries of the services sector, thus making the work of our European sectoral social dialogues overlap.
We see our initiative to discuss common challenges among the European sectoral social partners from the services sectors as an important complement to our respective social dialogues as well as European social dialogue at cross-industry level. We welcome the positive attitude of the European Commission towards our initiative and look forward to continuing this path jointly.
The European social partners from the services sectors would welcome the following:
1) European Social dialogue supports and complements social dialogue at national level by
bringing together the experience and expertise of social partners, therefore adding value to the organisations and their members on both sides of industry. Social dialogue contributes to achieving the objectives of full employment, social progress and the fight against social exclusion laid down in Art. 3 TFEU. The economic crisis has created a less cohesive and more unequal European Union. Social Dialogue can be used to re-build trust in the EU project at large.
2) The European social dialogue is an autonomous dialogue between employers and trade
unions. Social partners are those that have the capacity to negotiate according to national
law and practice. This particularity allows the social partners to act as “de facto” colegislators if they so wish. The Commission has an obligation to facilitate and promote social dialogue.
3) European sectoral social dialogue is distinct from cross-sectoral social dialogue, as pointed out under point 4 of the Joint Declaration on a New Start for a Strong Social Dialogue as approved by the social partners on the thematic group meeting on 27/27 January 2016. The sectoral social partners are in a better position to deliver a concrete picture of each sector and can provide specific data that can be used in the design of policy proposals.
4) Changes, especially those driven by technology and digitalisation, follow similar patterns in different services sectors. Since, most of social partners have discussed ways to address such changes and formulated joint responses in the forms of guidelines, joint opinions, recommendations or action plans, there is a need to link up their work. For this, social dialogue committees should develop ways to cooperate and the Commission should
facilitate this process. Examples are the skills agenda, digitalisation, demographic change
and new forms of work. With the growing impact of digitalisation and new business models
like the “circular economy”, the EU has a role to ensure that a level playing field for all
market operations is maintained, whether in the area of supervision, competition, taxation
5) Sectoral social partners should be involved in the EU’s policymaking process from the very start, in particular through their social dialogue committees. The Commission should already consult social partners before the drafting of a policy proposal begins. The respective responsible Directorate General (DG) having the lead on a given initiative should involve DG EMPL and interested sectoral social partners from early on. Social partners welcome the idea to have a dedicated office in each DG responsible for social dialogue and social affairs as it is the case already for some sectors (Maritime transport and Fisheries for instance).
6) European Social Dialogue relies on a strong national membership. We are ready to engage together with the Commission in capacity building activities to develop, promote and strengthen sectoral social dialogue, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe, taking into due consideration the diversity of industrial relation systems. The Commission should make funding available to social partners and making funding opportunities for social dialogue support more transparent.
7) Outcomes of European Social Dialogue (agreements, process-oriented texts, joint opinions and tools) are only meaningful if they can be discussed, translated and used by respective national social partners and/or contributing to common European level approach. The Commission should support and facilitate this process, in particular by promoting and facilitating social dialogue in those countries where it is underdeveloped. Exchange among sectoral social partners on this and implementation of targeted projects aimed to raise awareness on European social dialogue could be mutually beneficial.
8) One of the most important expressions of European social dialogue are sectoral social
partner agreements. While we accept the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaty
includes ensuring that social partner agreements are in line with the law, we stress that the
social partners are those who know best what is appropriate and beneficial for their industry in terms of social matters. The Commission has an obligation to respect the autonomy of social dialogue. Under the condition of a request by recognised European social partners, it should facilitate the conclusion and implementation of their agreements in line with Art. 155 TFEU.
9) Despite official statements from President Junker that social dialogue would be a political priority of this Commission, budgets for sectoral social dialogue are being reduced or reshifted. Administrative work to organise European social dialogue activities has been increasingly moved from the Commission to the social partners. Such work, whether running EU funded projects or organising social dialogue meetings constitutes in many cases excessive and unnecessary red tape. This is a clear and alarming political move from the Commission towards a reduction of resources away from social dialogue. The Commission should review its approach with a view to allow social partners to focus on their core role in social dialogue and, indeed, provide more resources for capacity-building.
10) The representativeness of the social partners derives from their mutual recognition; it is intrinsic to their nature and is at the core of their autonomy. Representativeness studies
conducted on behalf of the Commission are an important element in supporting the development of social dialogue and the autonomy of the social partners.
European Federation of Cleaning Industries
COESS - Confederation of European Security
Chairman of the EBF-Banking Committee for
European Social Affairs
EBF - European Banking Federation
Every Meal Matters - Food Donation Guidelines28 Jun 2016
How to improve the distrubtion of surplus food to food banks?
Join us for the breakfast launch of EVERY MEAL MATTERS, the joint guidelines by EuroCommerce, FoodDrinkEurope and FEBA (European Federation of Food Banks) to help food manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers donate their food surpluses, contribute to reducing food wastage and work towards a true Circular Economy.
Statement on outcome of UK referendum24 Jun 2016
“This is a sad day, but also a wake-up call for Europe and for the future direction of the European Union. We must respect the will of the British people, but we will miss the liberal and forward-looking policy input of a country which has been a driving force in the single market, better regulation and open global trade. Britain is the nation of shopkeepers, and the dynamism of British retail has made it a leader in innovation in the high street and online,” said Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce today.
Britain’s legal situation remains the same for at least two years, but EuroCommerce calls upon Europe’s leaders to bring calm to what is a nervous environment today, and ensure that the negotiations on Britain’s leaving the EU will be an orderly and considered process with an important trading partner.
The situation we face from today underlines the message which EuroCommerce and its members have sent to Europe’s leaders ahead of the summit next week on Europe moving forward quickly to enhance Europe’s global competitiveness. This requires a determined effort to pursue the realisation of a properly-functioning single market, an open trading environment and EU and national regulation which encourages technological innovation, competitiveness and investment. This is the best and most direct way to create prosperity, jobs and growth for Europe’s citizens.
Food and Feed Safety 2.0 Workshop22 Jun 2016
Food/Feed chemical safety management, Traceability, HACCP, Hygiene: how to deal with these issues in relation to chemicals in food and feed? Chemicals can be used in food and feed additives and supplements, as food colorings and flavorings. On the other hand, their presence as residues from veterinary medicines and pesticides, or as contaminants, needs to be closely monitored.
Fecc and EuroCommerce jointly organise the Product Stewardship Workshop “Food & Feed Safety 2.0” to analyse the problems that all actors along the Supply Chain face to maintain the safety and integrity of Food and Feed products in relation to chemicals. The event will be held in Brussels on 23 June 2016.
The aim of the seminar is to give the participants a good understanding of present legislation and different quality systems applied by business. Experts in the field will provide a theoretical background and share their experiences. In addition, speakers will provide the audience with best business practices and share practical case studies viewed from every angle within the supply chain.
Join the conversation on Twitter via #FFSafety
EuroCommerce calls on Europe’s leaders to put Europe back on track22 Jun 2016
Ahead of the European Council next week, EuroCommerce and its members have written to European heads of state and government and the Presidents of the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council to push for a new approach to making Europe work for its citizens to restore confidence in Europe and create growth and jobs.
Speaking today, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:
“Our sector plays a major role in creating jobs and growth, and is in the front line if consumers lose confidence. European decision-makers need to look carefully at the impact of measures responding to - perhaps completely unrelated - policy areas on the ability of all sectors, including retail and wholesale, to do business and create growth.”
In the attached paper, EuroCommerce sets out the main pillars for action:
- The Single Market, both digital and offline, is Europe’s best hope of creating such growth, yet national self-interest and insufficient enforcement of EU rules, and discriminatory measures in some member states aimed at foreign companies are holding back the EU from exploiting its full potential;
- Retailers and wholesalers rely on complex supply chains in Europe and across the world, and need uninterrupted delivery of goods to their premises. Disruption and delay costs money and threatens jobs. Europe needs to be open, both internally and to the outside world, for the free flow of goods and investment;
- Overall, an EU which provides its citizens with what they need and expect in addressing the big issues such as prosperity, employment and security, addresses protectionism within and outside the EU, and holds back from unnecessary and intrusive bureaucracy, will regain the public trust that it has lost in many member states.
For further information, please contact:
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - firstname.lastname@example.org