Ahead of the vote of the European Parliament on the Digital Services Act (DSA) this week, retailers are calling for the new rules to support competitiveness online and foster innovation. Christel Delberghe, EuroCommerce Director General, said today:
“Retailers and wholesalers need the DSA to create a framework which protects consumers’ interests and a lays down a set of clear rules and a level playing field for all market players, irrespective of the sales channels on which they offer their goods and services, and where they are established. We are concerned that the Digital Services Act as now drafted already seeks - with no proper impact assessment - to regulate numerous other aspects outside its scope. We call upon MEPs to avoid a raft of amendments which exacerbate this situation. There is a risk that all these rules will only lead to higher compliance costs and red tape for businesses established in the EU but not for those outside. This could end up undermining Europe’s ability to compete with powerful players in the US and China.”
In summary, EuroCommerce believes the EU legal framework for a digital single market should:
• ensure high consumer trust;
• provide legal certainty for all market players irrespective of which sales channels they use to offer their services;
• ensure balanced responsibilities for all market players depending on their position in the supply chain; and
• create a level playing field for all businesses that offer products to EU consumers wherever they are established.
and calls upon the Parliament to avoid adopting amendments which work against these overall objectives.
Ahead of the start this week of trilogues between the European Parliament, Council and Commission on the Digital Markets Act (DMA), EuroCommerce Director General Christel Delberghe said:
“The COVID pandemic has massively accelerated online sales, and platforms can offer traders, including SMEs, real benefits, increasing their visibility and access to a wider customer base, providing efficiency and reduced transaction costs. We ask co-legislators to ensure that the rules finally adopted are workable, clear for all players and do not create unnecessary burdens or costs. In particular, we ask that the DMA reflects fully the differences between the various services provided by platforms and avoids fragmentation of the single market.”
In a challenging and rapidly changing environment, retailers and wholesalers need a DMA providing legal certainty and incentives to grow and invest in robust omnichannel strategies within a properly functioning single market, with clarity for both gatekeeper and emerging platforms. This means maximum harmonisation, particularly in the scope of the DMA, and the practices regulated by it, with the European Commission as the main enforcer of the new rules to avoid fragmented enforcement undermining the single market.
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Commenting today on the European Commission proposal to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, EuroCommerce Director General Christel Delberghe explained how retailers and wholesalers are already contributing to the improvement of the built environment, and highlighted the need for support for our sector to help meet the directive’s objectives:
“We fully support the objectives of the directive. For many years retailers and wholesalers have been upgrading our shops and warehouses regularly to use energy more efficiently and to switch to renewables wherever possible. But, as a sector operating at very low margins, and with 99% of our companies SMEs, we are calling on the Commission and member states to ensure that the obligations on companies are proportionate and that they have adequate support in financing the investments needed to fulfil its objectives”.
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With the Commission’s publication of its proposed Urban Mobility Framework today, EuroCommerce Director General Christel Delberghe underlined the importance of retailers and wholesalers as the vital backbone of local communities and in keeping town centres alive.
“Town centres are sensitive ecosystems in which retail and wholesale, hospitality and other services rely on and interact with each other. A town with a wide range of shops is an attractive place to visit and live and one in which other businesses can prosper. If not, the life of the town risks ebbing away. We are asking the Commission to ensure that the mandatory Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in their proposal involve consultation of all parts of the community including local businesses. This will be vital in creating a balanced approach to sustainable access for customers and deliveries which can allow retailers and wholesalers to continue to serve and maintain the vitality of the community.”
We fully support measures to make access to towns sustainable, but this needs to ensure a mix of transport solutions for people coming to town to shop, and for the businesses serving them. Convenient and affordable public transport and other soft access solutions will be an important part of creating sustainable urban mobility. But some purchases will need provision of some parking and access for private cars. Last-mile deliveries to town-centre businesses, or from those businesses to consumers, will need optimised access for lorries and vans if the businesses are to continue to be able to operate from the town.
EuroCommerce Narrative on Retail and Wholesale in a changing world…
The world is changing rapidly. Retailers and wholesalers have repeatedly shown how resilient and adaptive they are, and are moving ahead with embracing this change, providing value to customers, suppliers, and society at large. This great story is worth telling – both to the sector and to the wider world. And the story needs to say clearly what we want from the EU and from national governments to make our sector sustainably competitive.
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Today, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted its resolution ‘Digital transformation opportunities for retail companies and its advantages for European consumers’. The report addresses the major impact on businesses of the digital transformation of the sector, the impact of COVID and the opportunities and challenges of the digital and green transition.
EuroCommerce Director-General Christel Delberghe commented:
‘The EESC report recognises the strategic role that the retail ecosystem plays in driving European recovery, underlines the significant transformation under way and the need to support investment and resilience. Last year, we launched our Pact for Commerce (here), supported by our social partners (here), setting out investment and policy needs for the retail and wholesale sector, focussing on digitalisation, sustainability, local employment and the need for open markets. I would like to thank the EESC for its very helpful and supportive report highlighting the importance, but also the needs, of our ecosystem in order to remain competitive and continuing to provide in the future the essential service it gives its customers every day.’
EuroCommerce also wholeheartedly endorses the call in the EESC report for redesigning employment and skills support measures, and investment in the skill sets of future retail workers. While our sector has a proud record of training and upskilling, equipping the workforce for a rapidly changing business environment needs support.