Long-Term View on Competitiveness: A potential win-win for the EU, retail and wholesale – but only with the right support
Press release - Competitiveness & Single Market
20 March 2023
The retail and wholesale sector contributes 10% of the EU’s GDP and it is Europe’s first private employer, providing jobs to 26 million Europeans and is present in every community in the EU. As such, it deserves recognition and support for its role as an innovator and partner for growth-enhancing investments. These benefits extend well beyond the essential service it provides in bringing choice and innovation to EU consumers and businesses, incorporating value-adding technological advances in sustainability, digitalisation and skills.
Commenting on the potential for retail and wholesale to be the EU’s partner of choice, EuroCommerce Director General, Christel Delberghe noted: “Retailers and wholesalers can add maximum value to Europe’s future competitiveness. Many are already making significant investments in supporting the energy transition and have the potential to do much more in partnership with public authorities and research institutions. The potential for the retail and wholesale sector to develop new business models, built around the principle of circularity, is obvious and it’s already happening. Even if you look no further than renting, refurbishing, upcycling and selling secondhand products, the huge potential of retail and wholesale sector is clear.”
On the role of better regulation in improving competitiveness, Christel Delberghe added: “Every day retailers and wholesalers offer a wide variety of products to their customers. This exposes them to multiple types of national and EU legislation that add layer upon layer of crushing compliance burdens to their operations. As reporting requirements have grown, more efforts are now diverted towards tackling administrative burdens, leaving scarce resources to invest in the sustainability and digital transformation of their businesses. There needs to be greater level of ambition in reducing cumulative regulatory burden and reporting requirements.”
While EuroCommerce welcomes the new approach to legislation, the Commission must take a more proactive role, considering the practicability of proposed legislation, ensuring consistency and stopping the damage done by proposals arising in the co-legislative procedure in the absence of a reality check, sectoral knowledge or proper impact assessment. These can have negative and costly implications for both business and consumers and hold back retailers and wholesalers who could otherwise be driving the transition towards sustainability and digitalisation.