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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.

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Retailers press for common sense approach to the food supply chain
08 Dec 2016 open-close-item
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On 12-13 December, Agriculture Ministers will be meeting in Brussels to discuss draft Council conclusions on farmers’ position in the food supply chain, including a call for EU-level legislation on trading practices. Retailers oppose EU-level legislation on trading practices.

Retailers need a diverse agriculture sector in Europe that can produce a reliable and sustainable supply of food of the right quality, in the right quantities and the right products that consumers want to buy. EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Retailers need European farmers able to compete successfully in an open market economy, and producing the diversity of food that is Europe’s unique strength. We regret that the debate on this relationship has long been fed by the misleading argument that farmers' problems will be solved at a stroke by legislation against retailers. This is disingenuous, and diverts activity away from where policy could help farmers flourish in the future. What is more, it risks harming the interests of already hard-pressed consumers.” 

Here are a few reasons why EU legislation would offer nothing to farmers except a gesture to show that the EU has responded to a call for "something to be done":

  • retailers buy very little direct from farmers: on average across Europe, food retailers buy less than 5% of their products direct from farmers. Furthermore, with many intermediaries, each taking a margin, the price paid for a processed product by a retailer will have little effect on the price those intermediaries pay the farmer.
  • no added value of an EU-level legislation: 20 Member States have legislation on UTPs. Over 80% of retailers' contracts for foods are for products supplied nationally. Even where a product is sourced cross-border, the contract will always stipulate which national jurisdiction applies. All of these national laws have provisions to protect parties against any unfair or unilateral breach of contract. This, in our view, points to the absence of any need for EU legislation. The Juncker Commission has given new impetus to both subsidiarity and better regulation in the way it approaches legislation, and this seems to us an example where both should apply.
  • the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) has encouraged dialogue and positive behaviour: the SCI cannot and does not seek to replace national legislation, but rather supplement it by applying common principles, which were agreed with and signed by farmers' representatives four years ago, and by encouraging dispute resolution in a way that facilitates the continuation of business relationships. The SCI is currently looking at ways to strengthen its independence and other aspects of its work in response to Commission recommendations.

Christian Verschueren concluded:

“These are the reasons why we are both bemused and concerned that the task force and the Council are firing their guns at the wrong target. Farmers need to be encouraged to organise to strengthen their position in the supply chain and respond to market demand – retailers would welcome this wholeheartedly. Proposing EU-level legislation to cover deals which largely do not involve farmers is not providing them with anything useful. In line with President Juncker’s approach on legislation, this European Commission needs to get involved only where it adds value.”

~ENDS~

For further information, please contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 – timaru@eurocommerce.eu  

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EuroCommerce presses governments to adopt new VAT rules for more cross-border trade
01 Dec 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce welcomed the proposals announced today by Commissioner Moscovici to modernise VAT in the EU as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy. EuroCommerce Director-General  Christian Verschueren said:

“The existence of 28 different VAT rules in the EU makes it extremely difficult, particularly for small businesses to make the most of the Single Market and operate cross-border. Existing EU VAT legislation goes back to the 1990s when e-commerce didn’t exist, and this needs to change. We are therefore very glad that the Commission has focused on updating these for the 21st century”.

EuroCommerce sees the plans to extend  the VAT Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) to the shipment of tangible goods as a real step forward. It will encourage especially smaller companies to sell to consumers in other countries by removing the need to register for VAT in different Member States. Clear rules on invoicing and the record retention for businesses using the VAT One-Stop Shop will also reduce the bureaucratic burden.

The proposed abolition of the VAT threshold for the import of small consignments is also very welcome. The rising popularity of Asian shopping platforms among European consumers has led some products ordered from countries not being taxed at all. Up to 27% VAT is due when the same product is bought from an EU-based provider. The abolition of the VAT threshold will help establish a level playing field between competitors from inside and outside the EU. EuroCommerce is in addition seeking further action by the Commission on making rules easier for SMEs and the reform of the reduced VAT rate system as foreseen in the VAT Action Plan earlier this year.

But since tax rules require the unanimous agreement of Member States, EuroCommerce worries that these valuable moves to modernise VAT may be delayed or watered down. Christian Verschueren pressed national governments to take a forward-looking approach to these important issues:

“Everyone in the EU believes in using the Single Market to boost jobs and growth: this is one quite simple way of achieving this. We hope that all the players involved in considering these ideas will act in a far-sighted and positive manner to reach a rapid agreement on these measures, which offer national governments measures preventing tax fraud on the one hand and on the other, helping e-commerce operators grow across  EU.”

~ENDS~

For further information, please contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 – timaru@eurocommerce.eu

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EuroCommerce sees rushed Council deal on geoblocking as a missed opportunity
28 Nov 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce welcomed many of the improvements to the Geoblocking Regulation agreed at the Competitiveness Council today, including on payments, after sales service and freedom to have different commercial offerings across channels and different countries. But it regrets that, in the rush to do a deal before the end of the year, the text does too little to meet retailers' and wholesalers' need for the legal certainty to allow businesses to sell cross-border with confidence that they are not running potentially expensive regulatory and judicial risk.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented:

“We have always supported the Geoblocking Regulation’s stated aim of prohibiting unjustified discrimination and encouraging more cross-border e-commerce. But without more legal clarity on what rules traders will face, it will not help build a Digital Single Market. Perversely it is likely instead to deter companies from selling online at all. The proposal, as it has been agreed today, is a missed opportunity: it carries new risks for traders and more bureaucracy without delivering tangible benefits for consumers or the Single Market.”

The draft agreed today is deficient in dealing with the law applicable to a contract. Both traders and consumers need to know whether they can apply the law in the trader’s country or the consumer’s. We had hoped that the text would be clear that a trader complying with the Regulation may rely on all the rules applicable in his country, including not only mandatory consumer protection law, but all the other rules including labelling, language, product safety, environmental and other standards. This is the case at present if a consumer goes abroad and buys something in a shop, a situation the original proposal claimed to be seeking to replicate online, but did not.

Christian Verschueren added “The Digital Single Market cannot work unless the offline Single Market does. Business opportunities online will grow if legislators focus on removing the - too many - existing legal and regulatory barriers to trading across border. Simply forcing online traders to sell, without resolving the reasons why they do not do so now, does nothing for building the Single Market. We will seek to work with the European Parliament and other institutions to achieve this.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 – timaru@eurocommerce.eu

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New EU Start-up and Scale-up Initiative: completing the Single Market is the best way to allow small businesses to grow
23 Nov 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce sees the publication of the new Commission Communication Start-up and Scale-up Initiative as a welcome contribution to creating a positive environment in Europe for start-ups and improve the prospects of those seeking to scale up their business.

99% of the 5.4 million of retail and wholesale businesses in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They offer consumers and the community around them new products, new ideas and a wide range of choice, as well as acting as a major force in generating jobs and growth. Commenting on the new initiative, Christian Verschueren, EuroCommerce Director-General said:

“SME policy needs to offer positive solutions for traditional small companies which generate millions of valuable jobs in Europe, and should focus more widely than just on fast-growing tech start-ups.”

To be helpful to SMEs in Europe, Member States need to make the Single Market a reality, rather than add their own burdensome rules on top of EU legislation. The opportunities of the Single Market and cross-border e-commerce are often out of small companies’ reach. They are particularly susceptible to the significant market barriers which remain: different national standards, consumer laws, product safety and labelling rules, as well as burdensome and costly VAT regulations. Verschueren added:

“All SMEs need regulation which encourages them to expand and thrive. Above all, only by creating a properly functioning Single Market can Europe see its SMEs create the innovation and dynamism it needs.”

SMEs are the very traders who can benefit most from cross-border e-commerce. The Digital Single Market can only work if the many national barriers holding up the Single Market, whether online or offline, are overcome. Yet SMEs face a new challenge under the proposals on geoblocking which expose them to legal uncertainty and compliance costs in markets they never intended to target.

~ENDS~

 

For further information, please contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu

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EuroCommerce position on the Accessibility Act
17 Nov 2016 open-close-item
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In December 2015 the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on the accessibility requirements for goods and services (European Accessibility Act). The proposal aims at helping Member States comply with their obligations under the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Commission’s proposal establishes accessibility requirements for certain categories of products and services available in the EU.
EuroCommerce shares the objective of this proposal to support the promotion of an inclusive society, increase active participation of persons with disabilities and to give people more autonomy and mobility.

However, we believe that some of the proposal’s goals could be better achieved by enabling and promoting access technologies targeted at the needs of the disabled rather than requiring all products and services in certain categories to be accessible to all people irrespective of whether they are disabled or not. Among many other obligations, the Convention requires Member States to promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet (Article 9.2.g). The emphasis here is on promoting access rather than imposing mandatory accessibility standards.
The proposal, as it stands, lacks legal clarity and could have negative impact on the consumers and businesses, especially SMEs and microenterprises. This in particular concerns unclear scope of the derogations provided in the proposal and well as onerous adaptation requirements imposed on all businesses.

We are not convinced that using the CE marking approach, which was designed for assessing product safety, thus being an objective criterion, is the best way of achieving accessibility. User expectations and needs regarding accessibility are not always objectively measured. The proposal might result in ineffective practices.

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Retailers and wholesalers call for decisive EU action on product safety
15 Nov 2016 open-close-item
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In conjunction with International Product Safety Week and the conference being held this week in Brussels, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren today pressed Europe’s decision-makers to look at further action on product safety, a core issue for the retail and wholesale sector. The EU should move forward on at least the most important elements of the blocked product safety package:

“Consumer confidence is a key priority for retailers and wholesalers, and consumers need to know that the products they buy are safe for them and their families. With the major changes in how and where people buy, it is important that we have a modern and coherent product safety framework which is effective, proportionate, and as simple as possible. “

With an increasing tendency for direct online sales of products to consumers from outside  Europe, there is a growing problem of non-compliant products, which can potentially cause harm to both consumers and law-abiding businesses. Retailers and wholesalers strongly support Commission action to ensure that all products placed on the EU market are safe. At present, progress is being hindered with the product safety package still being blocked in the Council. EuroCommerce therefore welcomes the Commission’s efforts to ensure that the positive elements of the package are not forgotten. For example, we believe it important to continue to look at ways of clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of the various economic operators along the supply chain, particularly producers, importers or distributors of consumer products that are not covered by specific legislation. We also need a level playing field for enforcement, with the main focus on dealing effectively with rogue traders, while  providing support and advice to honest businesses to ensure compliance.

Retailers and wholesalers need this framework, as uncertainty causes problems for both traders and consumers. We therefore renew our call to EU decision-makers to break the deadlock in the Council, which is depriving Europe of important legislation for ensuring the well-being and safety of consumers.

~ENDS~

For further information, please contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 737 04 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu

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Retailers dismayed at the Agri-markets Task Force call for EU legislation on trading practices
14 Nov 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce supported Commissioner Hogan’s establishment of the Agricultural Markets Task Force, whose report was issued today. Retailers understand the difficulties faced by a number of farmers today. Europe needs an agricultural sector firmly rooted in an open market economy, able to be more responsive to market signals and ever-changing consumer demand. We can therefore support many of the recommendations from the task force aimed at, for instance greater encouragement of producer organisations, use of risk management tools and contractualisation.

 

This is an important report dealing with important issues. It is therefore regrettable that where dealing with trading practices, the Task Force has succumbed to political pressure and included demands for EU legislative action on practices which have not been identified as problematic in Commission reports on the food supply chain over the past 8 years. These recommendations unfortunately reflect a poor understanding of how the supply chain and normal commercial practice work.

 

Christian Verschueren commented: “EU-level legislation will not provide a practicable solution to the problems facing farmers and other parts of the supply chain. Today, agriculture needs to be better organised and be more responsive to market signals and consumer demand. Regulating trading practices at EU level is mere gesture politics and will do nothing to help farmers’ income. We ask the Commission to help create a new, constructive dialogue with farmers to address these issues.”

 

As the Commission concluded in its report on the Supply Chain Initiative in January, national law is already in place in a vast majority of member states, and provides mechanisms for redress and sanctions. The Commission report found no significant evidence of the need for regulatory action on trading practices at EU level. Verschueren added: “National commercial practice and contract law vary substantially across Europe. If there was ever an argument for applying subsidiarity, it surely applies here.”

 

We too are against unfair trading practices: we call upon the Commission to encourage all sectors, including farmers, to take part as a matter of urgency in a constructive dialogue which can benefit all parts of the supply chain. The Supply Chain Initiative does not seek to replace national legislation, but complements it by offering a common understanding of what is fair practice and encourages operators to resolve issues in a constructive manner aimed at continuing the business relationship. We await the Commission response to the report with great interest and are sure that they will want to apply the better regulation principles that they have committed to in considering how best to address these complex issues.

 ~ENDS~

 

For further information, please contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu 

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EuroCommerce and UNI Europa address physical and psychological risks at work
10 Nov 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce and UNI Europa, the recognised social partners for the retail and wholesale sector at EU level, agreed the findings of a comprehensive project at a high-level event in Brussels today. The project included research on improved employee health and safety in the retail and wholesale sector.

This marks the culmination of a 2-year social partners’ project on Improving Health and Safety at the workplace through an efficient social dialogue, to spread best practice related to the health, safety and wellbeing of retail and wholesale employees. The project included a survey to identify the main issues concerning ergonomics, stress at work and psychosocial risks. The comprehensive report of the project findings will be published in the coming weeks, with examples of how to tackle these issues and improve workers’ wellbeing and safety. Examples highlighted in the project included innovative ways of avoiding unnecessary back strain when stacking shelves, identifying risk hotspots in stores, better ergonomics to reduce repetitive strain, designing stores to reduce verbal or physical violence against employees, and providing professional psychological support and advice to staff.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented:

“Retail and wholesale is built on people: we employ 29 million people in a wide range of jobs, and rely on their dedication to quality and good customer service to make our businesses a success. Their physical and psychological health, safety and wellbeing is of paramount importance to us. EuroCommerce was therefore committed to work with our social partner, UNI Europa, in carrying out these assessments and recommendations. They should make work a safer place.”

UNI Europa Regional Secretary, Oliver Roethig concluded:

“Occupational health and safety is not only in the best interest of workers but also in that of employers and society as a whole. It increases workers’ loyalty and productivity, and reduces costs for the social security system. The cooperation between social partners on all levels from the shop floor to the European level is as crucial on health and safety issues as it is on other subjects. We are happy and proud that the fruitful relationship between UNI Europa and EuroCommerce has led to this excellent study which will soon be released to the wider audience.” 

~ENDS~

 

For further information, please contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 6483 – timaru@eurocommerce.eu

Alexandra Simon - +32 2 737 05 85 - simon@eurocommerce.eu

Elke Zander - +32 2 234 56 48 – elke.zander@uniglobalunion.org    

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The Jobs and Skills Narrative
27 Oct 2016 open-close-item
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This Narrative sets out the challenges facing the sector in ensuring that it has a workforce with the right skills to be deployed where they are needed to respond to new market demands. As a sector, we employ a lot of young people who have grown up with digital technology, and these skills can be put to good use. Flexible working can also help the large number of women we employ. We are also doing much to engage with educational institutions to foster equipping the next generation with the skills we need. But we ask for EU and national employment laws that are fit for a fast-moving economy. At the same time, we need policies to foster decent working conditions in developing countries.

 

Supply Chain Narrative - scroll down

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EuroCommerce presses for ratification of EU-Canada free trade agreement
21 Oct 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce is pressing for no further delays in ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA). Today’s summit of European leaders in Brussels will be discussing how to proceed with CETA. In EuroCommerce’s view, it is the credibility of the EU’s ability to act effectively to promote free and fair trade that is at stake in this. Canada is an important trading partner, and the time has come to reflect this by ratifying and implementing CETA. 

Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“EU governments need to ask themselves what signal blocking a major trade agreement like CETA sends to the rest of the world. Canada has accepted a number of important EU demands. It represents a country with a set of values, culture and economic and social policies as close to those of Europe as any other in the world. CETA represents a good deal for European consumers, traders and producers: it is time for Europe to show that it can act in promoting growth and jobs through freeing up trade with major partners.”

~ENDS~ 

 

For further information, please contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu

Alexandra Simon +32 2 737 05 85 - simon@eurocommerce.eu

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Filter by:

all

2016

2015

2014

2013

Filter by:

all

2016

2015

2014

2013

older

Consumer rights

Corporate social responsibility

Employment and social affairs

Environment

European retail action plan

Food, nutrition and health

Internal market

International trade

Logistics

Non-Food

Payment systems

SMEs

Social dialogue

Supply chain

Taxation

Filter by:

all

Consumer rights

Corporate social responsibility

Employment and social affairs

Environment

European retail action plan

Food, nutrition and health

Internal market

International trade

Logistics

Non-Food

Payment systems

SMEs

Social dialogue

Supply chain

Taxation