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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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EuroCommerce warns against fragmentation of VAT systems in the EU
19 Jan 2018 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce has always been supportive of the Commission’s 2016 VAT Action Plan and the measures outlined in it to facilitate VAT compliance for companies. We have already welcomed the extension of the VAT One Stop Shop as an important step in the right direction. The latest proposals on VAT rates and special schemes for small enterprises, however, raise some concerns for retailers and wholesalers.

Christian Verschueren, Director-General at EuroCommerce commented:

“Some Member States are asking for more flexibility in setting VAT rates. Businesses are already confronted with some 100 different VAT rates across Europe, and differing ways of defining products and services covered by them. We are certainly in favour of lower VAT rates, but giving Member States flexibility to add a multiplicity of new reduced rates will simply add to an already complex situation, when what we need is a simpler, more harmonised approach. Companies need reliable information to operate, and we will be looking at how the announced EU-wide web-portal can deliver companies easier access to information on VAT rates.”

In principle, the proposals making it easier for small companies to deal with VAT will help some companies reduce their compliance costs. But the proposals leave it to Member States to decide whether they want to introduce such VAT facilitation. Dealing with different VAT systems in the Single Market is one of the main barriers for retailers and wholesalers of all sizes, and variations between Member State regimes will do nothing to help simplify doing business. The proposed measures will be linked to the introduction of a definitive VAT regime.

Verschueren added: “The difficult decision-making process in the EU related to taxation slows down the reforms which businesses urgently need. It is frustrating for retailers and wholesalers to see that welcome changes such as the One-Stop shop and abolition of the VAT threshold for imports of small consignments will only be in place from 2021.”

~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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Retail & wholesale support EU Plastics Strategy
17 Jan 2018 open-close-item
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The retail and wholesale sector sees the publication yesterday of the EU Plastics Strategy as a welcome step towards a more circular economy. Today's plastic strategy will  hopefully transform the way plastics are currently produced, used and discarded. Retailers and wholesalers are committed to the environment and believe that this new approach can bring new opportunities, provided the right legislative proposals are put forward and agreed in the EU.

The Retailers' Environmental Action Programme (REAP), in which EuroCommerce and its members play a key role has already made significant progress on plastics and the environment, with action to reduce the use of plastics, minimising plastic waste in supply chains, promoting recycling, and increasing recycled content in products and packaging.

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce said:

“With 25 million tonnes of plastic waste generated annually in the EU and less than a third being collected for recycling, there is a real need to improve the sustainability of how we use and dispose of plastic. Properly designed plastic packaging helps to ensure food safety and reduce food waste, but we need to ensure that this is compatible with avoiding damage to the environment, and do so both in an effective, and a cost-effective way.”

EuroCommerce also welcomed the Commission initiative to act on single-use plastic and fishing gear to reduce marine litter.

Verschueren added: “Every kind of waste that ends in the sea has a negative impact on the environment. We need to tackle the systemic failures on waste and waste water management, and  prevent all types of plastics and waste from ending up in an already fragile marine environment. Several EU countries have already taken steps to limit the sale of some single-use plastic products (e.g. cotton buds). This is welcome, but to safeguard the Single Market, we need to define a consistent framework at EU level.”

~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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Supply Chain Initiative adopts a recommendation for Good Practice on handling confidentiality
09 Jan 2018 open-close-item
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The Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) clarifies good practice in applying the SCI principles of fair dealing, information, confidentiality, and justifiable request.

The Governance Group of the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) adopted and published a recommendation for good practice in relation to the principles of fair dealing, information, confidentiality and justifiable request in the context of a new branded product introduction, launch or renovation.

Businesses that register with the SCI commit to the principles of good practice in vertical relationships in the food supply chain. The recommendation has been developed to draw attention to the importance of respecting these principles and to provide further guidance on their practical application.

The document addresses the topics of information exchange, timing, and confidentiality for new branded product introduction, launch or renovation. It also provides guidance on how the SCI can support communication and training on the principles and refers to the SCI dispute resolution mechanism. The latter has recently been reinforced with the appointment of the independent Chair of the Supply Chain Initiative, Michael Hutchings.

“Since its launch in 2013, the SCI has attracted over 1,160 national operating companies, nearly 70% of which are SMEs, to sign up to the Principles of Good Practice and SCI commitments. This new clarification on how best to apply a number of principles when handling confidential information is a useful addition to the core principles adopted six years ago. It should help the parties involved in listing negotiations regarding new branded products. “says Mr Hutchings.

 ENDS

Contact:

Fabienne Eckert, SCI Project Manager

E-mail : info@supplychaininitiative.eu | Tel : +32 474 07 87 09

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Goods Package is good for consumers and traders
19 Dec 2017 open-close-item
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Retailers and wholesalers in Europe welcome the European Commission’s Goods Package, which was published today. The two legislative proposals, aimed at a more effective market surveillance and at mutual recognition of so-called non-harmonised products, should strengthen the Single Market, increase cross-border trade, and improve consumer choice.

Speaking today on the launch of the European Commission’s Goods Package, Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce said:

“Member States persist in demanding unjustified and unnecessary information and changes from retailers and wholesalers about products already found to be safe and sold legally in another Member State. In some cases, competent authorities are unaware of this, or simply choose to impose their own different national rules. The principle of mutual recognition goes back to the 1979 Cassis de Dijon case, yet these practices persist. The Commission’s proposal for improving problem solving, reinforcing product contact points and enhancing mutual trust, exchange and awareness, are promising. It will improve cross-border trade, enabling businesses to compete, and offer their customers more choice for better prices.”

EuroCommerce has for many years asked for improvement in the application of the principle of mutual recognition, enabling smooth cross-border trade in non-harmonised products. However, Member States’ authorities often ask for additional testing, relabelling and adjusting the composition of products. This should not be necessary if a product is already lawfully marketed elsewhere in the Single Market.

In addition, market surveillance is still too much nationally organised, and even scattered within Member States. EuroCommerce supports better coordination and collaboration between national market surveillance authorities, and especially with the customs authorities. This should reduce the number of non-compliant products sold in the Single Market. It will make it more difficult for rogue traders and increase consumer safety. Verschueren added:

“National market surveillance authorities need urgently to start working together more closely. Rogue traders who deliberately bring non-compliant products into the Single Market should be punished. Enforcement, instead of introducing new rules that lead to additional costs for genuine traders, is the way to protect consumers best.”
We are also pleased to see that the Commission proposes to extend the concept of ‘responsible person’ to become mandatory for all manufacturers making products available on the EU market. Verschueren concluded:

“Too often product responsibilities and liabilities fell on the shoulders of the retailers and wholesalers. We are pleased that the Commission has now clarified the respective roles of manufacturers and retailers and wholesalers.”

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Retailers support measures to help farmers in Omnibus Regulation – if they support competition
12 Dec 2017 open-close-item
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Responding to the adoption today by the European Parliament and Council of the text agreed in October in trilogue discussions on the Omnibus Regulation Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce said:

“Retailers and wholesalers have always supported measures that help farmers organise better in order to improve their ability to negotiate with the rest of the supply chain. A healthy and agile farming sector, able to operate successfully in a competitive market, is in the interests of everyone in the supply chain, including consumers. There is therefore much in the text agreed today which we can wholeheartedly support.”

The so-called Omnibus Regulation was originally proposed by the Commission as an instrument aimed at adjusting the way the CAP worked in terms of budget and the Common Market Organisations set up under the CMO Regulation[1]. The European Parliament extended the scope of the proposal to cover a number of wider issues.  Of these, the retail and wholesale sector supports a key proposal to allow farmers to join forces and carry out joint activities such as planning, production and marketing, provided that it maintains and promotes competition and helps farmers organise better to produce the foods which consumers want.

The new regulation also gives farmers the right to ask for a written contract, except when dealing with an SME.

Verschueren added: “Countries where farmers are better organised have demonstrated that this makes them better off and more competitive. This is a pattern we want to see replicated and promoted across Europe. But it is also important that the measures agreed by the Council and EP today also support proper competition. These measures will certainly do more to help farmers’ position in the supply chain than any EU legislation on trading practices. We are concerned that regulating trading practices will do nothing to help farmers or improve the functioning of the single market. Instead we would call on the Commission to facilitate a wide stakeholder dialogue on further ways of building farmers’ resilience.” 

~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 



[1] Regulation EC 1308/2013

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Brexit: continuity in the supply chain needs the right transitional period
11 Dec 2017 open-close-item
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Below is a statement issued today by Christian Verschueren Director-General of EuroCommerce, addressed to European leaders ahead of the European Council on 14/15 December:

EuroCommerce, on behalf of retailers, wholesalers and importer/exporters, welcomes the announcement on 8 December that the Commission considers that sufficient progress has been achieved on the first phase of the negotiations to allow discussion of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It hopes that the European Council will agree with the Commission assessment.

In a supply chain built on just-in-time deliveries, the movement of goods, and particularly fast-moving consumer and perishable goods and medicines, is extremely time-sensitive. Any delays or border queues will disrupt important production processes and damage perishable consignments.  Disruption of current supply chains would lead to price volatility and market uncertainty for all involved.

We therefore ask negotiators, if the Council agrees to move to the second phase of negotiations, to agree quickly on a suitable transitional period, ensuring legal predictability and allowing all parts of the supply chain to adjust to whatever new trading arrangements are finally agreed.  Since it seems almost inevitable that no agreement on these definitive arrangements can be reached before the deadline of March 2019, this transitional period needs to be long enough for there to be a realistic prospect of such an agreement to be completed and enter into force.

During the transitional period, it is important that goods continue to move freely and without tariff or quota restrictions between the UK and the EU, taking account of highly integrated supply chains between the UK and EU, and particularly with the Republic of Ireland. These transitional arrangements must avoid undermining the integrity of the single market, assure observance of all relevant EU standards and regulations, and give all economic operators legal certainty. These arrangements need to be enforceable under EU law.

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Why the right transitional arrangement is important: A few facts about the integrated nature of the EU-UK supply chain

  1. 1.    Free flow is vital to the supply chain

The volume of traffic both ways across the English Channel is considerable: 4 million lorries use the Channel Tunnel and ferry ports every year (i.e. up to 14,000 every day), while a further 850,000 lorries cross between the UK and Ireland every year, both across the land border with N. Ireland and across the Irish Sea. No EU free trade agreement with a third country hitherto has removed the need for border customs checks on goods from that country. None of the ports currently serving EU-UK trade on either side of the Channel is equipped or has the personnel to cope with the examination of the significantly higher number of loads that a hard border and tariffs would require. On this basis, further delays would be incurred with, for example food safety and hygiene inspections needed for food products, or retesting of medicines, entering the EU. A typical consignment of EU animal-derived food products going through the UK ports takes around 2 minutes. Such imports from third countries can often take over 2 days, while customs and sanitary checks are completed. WTO estimates suggest that these additional customs and other controls could add at a minimum 5% to 9%, or some €2.5 billion per year, to the cost of doing business with the UK.

2.   The UK: EU27’s single largest trading partner in agri-food products and key in non-food

Exports of all goods from the EU27 to the UK were worth €290 billion in 2016, making it the EU27’s second-largest export market after the US. UK goods exports to the EU in 2016 were €175 billion.

The UK was also the world’s largest importer of EU27 agri-food products[1], worth €57 billion in 2016. The UK is nonetheless a major market for large agri-food exporters such as the Netherlands (€8.5 billion), France (€5.4 billion) Germany (€4.9 billion), Ireland (€4.6 billion), Spain (€3.9 billion) and Belgium (€3.1 billion). 40% of the agri-food products consumed in the UK are imported, with nearly 75% of these imports coming from the EU. Disruption of trade will also adversely affect UK agri-food producers who exported €33.5 billion of their products to the EU – for example 90% of UK lamb and beef exports go to EU27 markets.

3.   Closely integrated and complex supply chains

Integrated supply chains have built up between the UK and the rest of the EU in the 44 years the UK has been a member.  This covers almost all industries, and with many companies across the economy reliant on just-in-time deliveries, disruption of supply chains by slower customs formalities, interruption of logistics, new tariffs and different standards will affect the way many companies do business. 

A good example, and one of concern to EuroCommerce members, is the food supply chain.  The figures below illustrate why these products matter in terms of ensuring continuity:

  • The UK is not self-sufficient in dairy, importing €2.4 billion of these products from other EU Member States in 2016.
  • One third of EU beef exports (mainly from Ireland) are currently sold on the UK market, with the UK today importing over 20% of its requirements from EU Member States.
  • It also imports €4.5 billion of fruit and vegetable products from EU27 countries, in particular from Spain (€1.6 billion) and the Netherlands (€1 billion).
  • The UK is also a major importer of wine from the EU, buying some €2.3 billion of wine, with France (€1 billion) and Italy (€750 million) the largest exporters.

4.   High agri-food tariffs

As illustrated with the figures for goods above, agri-food products are only a part of the overall picture of trade between the UK and the rest of Europe. Agri-food products imported into the EU, however, are subject to an average tariff bound under WTO rules of 22%, some facing tariffs of over 80%, as compared to an average 2% tariff for non-food products. With no transitional period, and if WTO-bound tariffs applied between the EU27 and the UK, the disruption of trade by new customs formalities could result in real and urgent problems for EU and UK producers alike. 

~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 



[1] Agri-food products correspond to Chapters 1 to 24 of the Harmonised System

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EU-Japan trade deal a welcome signal to protectionists
08 Dec 2017 open-close-item
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Welcoming the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement concluded today, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Today’s trade agreement between the EU and Japan shows that, while some major players seemingly believe that the international trading system is on the ropes, the EU can deliver real benefits for businesses and consumers. This is the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU, and I hope a strong signal ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires next week that protectionists are pursuing an economic dead-end.”

EuroCommerce was one of the first business groups to press for a trade agreement between the EU and Japan. It is a mature market of great interest for European business, including the retailers, wholesalers and importers/exporters we represent. The substantial reduction, and in many cases elimination, of tariffs on goods between our two markets will encourage European companies, large and small, to look at the opportunities this agreement offers in addressing what is the 4th largest economy in the world, with 127 million consumers. Like many groups, we would have welcomed the inclusion in this agreement of provisions on data flows between Japan and the EU, and we hope that the Commission work on examining this further can proceed quickly.

Verschueren added: “The conclusion of the agreement is not the end of the process, and we know that there is still a lot of legal detail to tie up.  European traders, however, want the deal struck today to be implemented quickly. We will be pressing for the process for provisional application of the agreement to be speeded up, and also encouraging the Commission to continue work on addressing remaining non-tariff barriers which hinder trade with Japan.”

~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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Retailers and wholesalers welcome easier cross-border VAT filing, abolition of VAT-free parcels, but deplores late implementation
05 Dec 2017 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce welcomed the adoption today of the VAT proposals related to electronic commerce. The extension of the VAT Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) from intangible goods to tangible goods is a real step forward. It should encourage smaller companies to sell to consumers in other countries by removing the need to register for VAT in different Member States.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented: “Today’s decision by the Council is an important step towards the removal of cross-border barriers in e-commerce. Different and unclear VAT rules across the EU discourage traders, in particular SMEs, from selling cross-border. The VAT One-Stop Shop should be an incentive for businesses to look for opportunities abroad. If they do, consumers will benefit as well. These rules will of course not harmonise the different VAT rates, but if the rates and particular administrative requirements for each Member State are explained clearly and in a user-friendly way, this One-Stop Shop can be really helpful.”

The abolition of the VAT threshold for the import of small consignments from third countries is also very welcome. Parcels of a value up to 22 euros coming from outside the EU are currently exempt of VAT, whilst the same product bought from an EU-based seller is subject to a VAT of up to 27%. The rising popularity of Asian shopping platforms among European consumers has meant that many products ordered on those platforms are not being taxed at all. The abolition of the VAT threshold will help establish a level playing field between competitors from inside and outside the EU.

On a less positive note, EuroCommerce deplores the long implementation phase. Verschueren added: “The tremendous speed of new technical developments in the digital sector requires a quick reaction from policy makers. It is frustrating that companies will still have to wait more than 3 years until these useful measures will finally be in place.”

~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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EU needs to lead in fight against protectionism
05 Dec 2017 open-close-item
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On the occasion of the European Trade Policy Day today, EuroCommerce urges the European Union to fight against the growing protectionist tendencies everywhere. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has noted a doubling in the number of restrictions imposed by national governments of G20 countries in the past five years. It is in particular worrying seeing the US government pulling away from existing and new trade agreements.

EuroCommerce Director-General noted: “It is a misperception that protectionism can boost economies in the long run. On the contrary, it is a lose-lose situation for the economy and for consumers. Seeking to protect national champions shields them from competition that makes them sharper and trigger competition. Eventually, they lose out. So do consumers, as prices get higher and choice is reduced. Retail and wholesale thrive on competition, and it is the only proven way of ensuring that consumers get a good deal, and the economy can grow.”

EuroCommerce supports the development of modern trading rules, preferably at the multilateral level. Importers and exporters worldwide are waiting impatiently for governments to show leadership and allow the WTO to deliver. Verschueren concluded: “Despite the worrying signals we receive from some trading partners and also some EU Member States, there are also encouraging signs as the pending conclusions of the EU trade agreements with Japan, Mercosur and Mexico.”

~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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Commission views on AB InBev a welcome step in tackling Territorial Supply Restrictions
30 Nov 2017 open-close-item
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Reacting today to the Commission statement of objections to AB InBev, Christian Verschueren, EuroCommerce Director-General, said:

“We are particularly pleased to see the Commission taking action against territorial supply restrictions. Retailers are not able to freely source the same products across borders, and thus unable to fully exercise their rights under the Single Market. In turn, this means consumers suffer from higher prices and less choice. This is important in a digital market where consumers can buy cross-border, but shop-based retailers cannot. This distorts competition and prevents retailers from offering their customers the best service".

The Commission has today sent its statement of objections to AB InBev for imposing practices making it impossible for Belgian retailers to freely source the same products from France and the Netherlands. Practices at stake include restrictions on the availability of language options, limited access to key products, and promotions. 

Territorial supply restrictions are illegitimate restrictions, imposed by suppliers of “must-have” products and restrict retailers’ ability to source centrally or in the country of their choice, or negotiate better purchasing conditions with suppliers. These arise often in the fast moving consumer goods sector. There can be legitimate reasons for local adaptation, such as local consumption habits, taste and national regulatory requirements. Some restrictions are more questionable, such as slight modification of packaging (e.g. size), slightly different composition, restricting availability of language options, etc.

Verschueren added:

“Retailers are key to making the Single Market a reality for consumers. We ask the Commission to take all the necessary steps to ensure that it is possible for retailers to make parallel imports for fast moving consumer goods. The Commission announcement today is an important step in addressing this issue, and we ask the Commission to pursue their efforts further.”

 ~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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Filter by:

all

2018

2017

2016

2015

Filter by:

all

2018

2017

2016

2015

older

Consumer rights

Employment and social affairs

Environment

Food, nutrition and health

Internal market

International trade

Logistics

Non-Food

Payment systems

SMEs

Social dialogue

Supply chain

Taxation

Filter by:

all

Consumer rights

Employment and social affairs

Environment

Food, nutrition and health

Internal market

International trade

Logistics

Non-Food

Payment systems

SMEs

Social dialogue

Supply chain

Taxation