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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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European Pillar of Social Rights
13 Jan 2017 open-close-item
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In our opinion, divergences in the economic situation of individuals in Europe do not result from a lack of social policy, but by a lack of economic growth and job creation. The Social Pillar should act as a driver for reforms at national level in order to develop flexibility and security in the labour markets and ensure that they produce synergy effects to allow retailers and wholesalers to recruit employees with enhanced employment and development opportunities. Subsidiarity is important here: many elements of social policy as well as organisation and funding of social systems are the competence of the Member States and not the European Union.


We believe that public training must focus on what the labour market needs. Labour markets must be flexible to allow retailers and wholesalers to adapt quickly to changing customer needs and to make it easier for first time employees and the unemployed to re-enter the labour market. Gender equality is important, but best handled at member state or local level, involving social partners. Experience has shown that sharing best practice on work life balance works better than legislation. A lack of childcare facilities is one of the main difficulties for women who want to access the labour market.


Conditions of employment are also best left to member states, and EuroCommerce sees no link between a less stable employment relationship and health and safety at work. Adequate social protection needs to encourage workers to stay in employment. EuroCommerce supports fair wages for work, but does not support general rules on minimum income which can discourage workers from seeking employment, and employers from taken on new staff. Support for the disabled is important as lack of support can impact on both carers’ and disabled people’s working and family life. Long-term care of the elderly must be sustainably financed, but not by increasing the cost of hindering job creation.


Finally, the Pillar should take into account the principle of subsidiarity.

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Services Package: mandatory notification should help prevent Single Market barriers
10 Jan 2017 open-close-item
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Retailers today welcomed the Commission publication of the long-awaited EU Services Package. An important element of the package is the review of the notification procedure under the Services Directive for national rules. The sector sees this as a major step in improving the Single Market for services and tackling national legislation which would be incompatible with EU law.

Better application of the Services Directive is of utmost importance. The Commission estimates that more ambitious implementation of the Services Directive would add 1.8 % to EU GDP.  In particular it will help reinforce the competitiveness of the retail sector, with wider choice and lower prices for consumers.

Member States have approached authorisation procedures for setting up shop in so many very different ways that it is impossible to operate in a similar fashion in different Member States or even regions within a Member State (Commission study 2014). An objective, transparent and non-discriminatory approach should form the basis of all authorisation procedures. Any measure should be justified, necessary and proportionate, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity. Numerous national laws do not respect the freedom of establishment or the freedom to provide a service and are difficult to challenge.

Christian Verschueren, EuroCommerce Director-General, said:

"The EU needs to be able to better prevent Single Market barriers from being erected, rather than resolving infringements post hoc. A mandatory framework requiring notification of draft laws, public and transparent, with a consultation period of 3 months for the Commission to assess the draft law, should make a fundamental difference to the Single Market. As is already the case with rules on goods, laws that have not been notified should be rendered null and void.”

At present, the majority of Member States do not notify (draft) national laws within the scope of the Services Directive to the Commission. Even those that do notify usually do not do so before the law is adopted. Issues arising from these rules can then only be resolved post hoc through lengthy infringement procedures. We hope that a new requirement to notify will allow the Commission to request from a Member State to refrain from adopting rules incompatible with the Services Directive and make implementation and application of the Directive significantly more effective.

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Retailers regret farmers' lobby continuing to focus on wrong issues in the food supply chain
09 Jan 2017 open-close-item
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Reacting to the debate in the European Parliament hearing on the report of the Agricultural Markets Task Force today, retailers expressed deep regret that the debate continued to focus on the misleading and mistaken belief that EU legislation on trading practices can resolve the problems of farmers in the supply chain. They repeated their strong support for helping farmers to provide competitive produce which consumers want to buy, but stressed that this was not the way to achieve this.

Retailers want and need a vibrant agriculture sector in Europe that can produce a reliable and competitive supply of food. They support many of the recommendations of the Task Force report, for instance on encouragement of producers cooperating more closely to improve their bargaining power, use of risk management tools, access to finance and contractualisation.

They however reiterated their clear conviction that EU-level legislation on trading practices will distort the supply chain, harm consumers and do nothing to help farmers.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Diverse, high-quality food is Europe’s unique strength, and what retailers need to attract consumers to come to their stores. We want to work with farmers and their organisations to make it easier for farmers to supply what consumers want. We therefore regret that, once again, hard-working farmers are being given a misleading promise that their problems will be solved at a stroke by legislation on trading practices, based on arguments which those putting them forward must know are simply not true.  This approach to farmers' problems diverts attention away from where policy could really help farmers flourish.” 

Verschueren set out why calls for EU legislation are aimed at the wrong target:

  • retailers buy very little direct from farmers: on average across Europe, food retailers buy less than 5% of their products direct from farmers. The price paid for a processed product by a retailer, often to a chain of multiple intermediaries, has almost no effect on what the   farmer gets for his produce. The practices identified by the Task Force affect contracts with large suppliers with already high net margins relative to retailers, and do not have any significant relevance to farmers.

 

  • 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 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:

“Commissioner Hogan has stressed the commitment of the EU to a market-oriented CAP. He should help farmers to organise themselves, to strengthen their position in the supply chain and respond to market demand. Proposing EU-level legislation covering trading practices which relate almost exclusively to negotiations with large multinational manufacturers, does nothing to create a sustainable farming sector that everyone wants – and instead will simply pile on further costs for hard-pressed consumers.”

 

~ENDS~

 

A PDF version of the press release is available here.

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 launches guide on the New EU Data Protection Rules
16 Dec 2016 open-close-item
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We are pleased to release The New EU Data Protection Rules guide: this guide for retailers aims at offering an analysis and basic information about the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation, and providing some help to retailers in how to comply with the Regulation when it comes into force in 2018.

The full version of the guide is available upon request. Please contact Kinga Timaru-Kast for more information.

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Retailers call for balanced response to Council conclusions on food supply chain
13 Dec 2016 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce called on the Commission to take a balanced approach in responding to agriculture ministers’ recommendations on so-called unfair trading practices, and promote better organisation of the agriculture sector and positive dialogue across the supply chain.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren  said:

“We were pleased that agriculture ministers agreed to ask for a considered and balanced approach to looking at ways of helping farmers improve their position in the supply chain. We invite the Commission to follow the Council conclusions: conduct a proper impact assessment and work towards a framework that respects subsidiarity and safeguards well-functioning national systems.”

EuroCommerce has always been clear that EU-level legislation would simply be an empty political gesture that would do nothing to help farmers, and instead simply risk creating ineffective bureaucracy and higher prices for consumers.As EuroCommerce has often pointed out, retailers on average buy less than 5% of their product range direct from farmers. An added EU layer of legislation on top of national laws already in place would have no impact on the prices farmers get for their produce.

Christian Verschueren added:

“As we have said before, we want a sustainable farming sector that is able to respond positively to changing consumer demand. We will therefore be seeking to work with the Commission and, if they are willing, farmers’ representatives, next year to focus on EU policy solutions which can best help farmers’ position in the supply chain. We hope that all involved will look at concrete ways of encouraging structural change and promoting dialogue across the supply chain.”

 ~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 need EU regulation to help boost supplies of organic produce
13 Dec 2016 open-close-item
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Retailers want regulation of organic products which lays down proper standards, but does not reduce production at a time when demand for organic products is already outstripping what farmers produce.  A key issue left open by Agriculture Ministers this week is the divergence of views with the Commission on thresholds for pesticide residues, which neither the Parliament nor the Council can accept.

EuroCommerce has been calling for risk-based, proportionate and pragmatic rules which allow continued sustainable growth of the organic sector. The already long process of negotiation does not instil confidence that in the end the best solution will be found. What is needed is a simple framework providing certainty for the entire organic sector. We call for the negotiating parties not to draw out this process any further.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said: “Over-complicated and  unnecessary controls, certification and environmental requirements, will make organic products even more expensive for consumers, and impact negatively on consumption. EuroCommerce is not opposed to clear rules, but these need to be appropriate to a market where it is already difficult to meet ever-growing demand. We need to boost and not throttle production and sales of organic.”

Retailers have responded to increased demand by offering organic produce and developing specific organic product lines, and supporting farmers to convert to organic production. Retailers already face an uphill struggle to source sufficient supplies of quality organic produce. A balanced approach to regulating these issues is needed if consumers are to be able to access the products they want.

 

~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 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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Filter by:

all

2017

2016

2015

2014

Filter by:

all

2017

2016

2015

2014

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