EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren warned of major consequences for global supply chains resulting from US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose additional tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU, Mexico and Canada:
“The global trading system which the US was instrumental in building up over the last 70 years has created economic well-being throughout the world. Free trade has lifted millions from poverty in developing countries and enhanced the quality of life of everyone, not least in the US, whose companies have also built up a major multinational presence on the back of it. Attacking close allies with open market economies in the name of national security is not just unwarranted, but the protection it seeks to give these industries will ultimately harm their competitiveness – and backfire on all economies, not least the US. Protectionism simply does not work, and just makes everyone poorer.”
Commenting on the country-specific recommendations (CSRs), issued last week by the European Commission as part of the European Semester process, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren, said:
“As the biggest private employer in Europe, retail and wholesale are a major factor in the EU economy. They are uniquely exposed to wide-scale regulation and suffer when this goes wrong. Regressive taxation and regulation, such as the French local property tax TASCOM, and, in a number of Member States, protectionist policies against foreign retailers, are holding back growth and harming consumers. Meanwhile manufacturers carve up the Single Market to the detriment of consumers and raise prices in some countries such as Belgium. These are not just missed opportunities for our economies, but every unnecessary barrier means real costs for consumers and a block on new jobs for many thousands of Europeans. The CSR exercise highlights these problems, and should be followed up with real action by Member States and where they are in breach of EU law, enforcement by the Commission.”
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Following today’s publication of the Commission proposal on single-use plastics, the retail and wholesale sector reiterated its commitment to promoting the circular economy and tackling plastic waste. The sector has already demonstrated its leadership in reducing packaging and single-use plastics, following a number of 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) strategies, and made collective and individual commitments on doing so, including an 80% reduction in overall waste.
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Retailers and wholesalers have put considerable investment and effort into complying with the GDPR to ensure that shopping, whether online or offline, will respect consumers’ right to privacy. These efforts will not end after today, when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes full effect.
All companies, whether large or small, based in the EU, but also, depending on the customers they serve, outside the EU, have a legal obligation to apply a set of complex data protection rules as of today. Retail and wholesale companies have been impacted by this Regulation in almost every area of customer data processing. Companies with storefronts, websites, mobile apps or other digital platforms through which they serve customers face new compliance standards, additional administrative burdens and liability for violations, as well more stringent enforcement and penalties. EuroCommerce issued in 2017 a guide “The new EU Data Protection Rules - A Guide for Retailers” aimed at helping its members in ensuring customers’ privacy. The guide is currently being updated to take into account new insights and guidance from the authorities.
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.
U.S. and EU Retailers Release Industry Approach to New Data Protection Regulations to Meet Customer ExpectationsRead more
The National Retail Federation and EuroCommerce today released a paper that addresses operational challenges retailers in both the United States and the European Union face as they implement programs to comply with new EU data protection regulations while continuing to meet consumers’ expectations for customer service.
“There are still many questions about how the GDPR applies to critical areas of retail operations,” the paper said. “Retailers must find appropriate methods for GDPR compliance that further their customer relationships and do not frustrate them.”
The 14-page “Retail Approach to Implementing Critical Elements of the GDPR” said retailers want to find “approaches to compliance that will meet the requirements of the GDPR while ensuring that retailers can continue to provide customers with the personalization, omnichannel experiences and seamless retail operations that they expect.”
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Speaking to mark the launch of the Benelux study on territorial supply constraints, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren argued for the EU to act on big brands’ fragmentation of the European market:
“The Benelux study just published provides further evidence of a worrying trend for all those who care about the single market and the interests of consumers. Big brands are breaking up the single market, using their dominant position to force retailers and wholesalers to buy products only in the country in which they operate; and they are doing so to maximise their already considerable profits at the expense of consumers. This is a little-known issue which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
Competitiveness of retail and wholesale in the digital age - EuroCommerce at European Business SummitRead more
Digital technology has driven a major change in the way people buy, but the way people buy has also transformed the way retail and wholesale do business. Digitalisation is transforming the competitive landscape of our sector in many ways. The distinction between online and offline, and between manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are becoming blurred. Digitalisation has brought about massive changes in supply chains, increasing transparency but also competitive pressure. Platforms have created new business models. Data and the ability to use data gives a competitive edge and will increasingly do so. These were the topics discussed this morning at the EuroCommerce roundtable Retail competitiveness in the age of digitalization, which took place during the European Business Summit.
Digital – the biggest transforming reality for retail & wholesale - First EuroCommerce Digital LectureRead more
Digitalisation is transforming retail and wholesale. Our sector employs 29 million Europeans, and offers a valuable entry point into the world of work for no less than 1 in 5 young people. European e-commerce saw 14% increase in revenue in 2017 and in the same year, as an EU average,57% of consumers purchased online at least once. The future of retail and wholesale and how innovation is crucial for businesses to survive in the digital age were the topics of the inaugural EuroCommerce Digital Lecture which took place today in the margins of the European Business Summit.
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A good mix of shops, offering a wide variety of goods and services, are central to keeping town centres good places to visit and enjoy. This was a central message of a conference “Retail & wholesale – Innovating to keep towns vibrant” organised by EuroCommerce today. Many, particularly mid-sized, towns are seeing shops struggling to survive, with a rapidly changing retail landscape, new regulatory burdens and the impact of the digital transformation in the way consumers buy. At the conference, businesses, local authorities and EU institutions shared their experience and best practice on how to keep town centres vital and attractive.
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Unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity play a significant role in European consumers’ health and well-being. In 2014, half of EU adults (52 %) were considered overweight, and 1 in 6 clinically obese.
Food retailers and wholesalers are in daily contact with millions of customers. They are therefore ideally placed, and are committed to helping consumers make informed choices as part of healthier living, most effectively in coordination with national and EU initiatives. This is the main message at an event today marking the launch of a EuroCommerce report Retail and Wholesale – working for a healthy lifestyle.
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Speaking today as the Commission launches its proposals for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren set out the priorities for the EU’s largest private-sector employer:
“As a sector, retail and wholesale are uniquely exposed to regulation in some Member States which breaches basic European values and the rules of the Single Market. We call on decision-makers to make a direct link between access to EU funding and respect of the rule of law, the principles of the Single Market and applying the law in a transparent, fair and non-discriminatory manner”.