Commerce is a sector in transition. Transition brings many challenges that need to be addressed, but likewise offers opportunities. For the period 2024-2025, the European sectoral social partners in their work programme have committed to reinforce their joint work on the challenges and opportunities the digital and green transition present, including capacity building, health and safety, and continued dialogue on EU policies.

EuroCommerce and UNI Europa agreed on their joint work programme on 6 December 2023. This coincides with the anticipated launch of the ‘Transition Pathway for the retail ecosystem’ by the Commission in March 2024. The Transition Pathway will create a forward-looking actionable plan for the sector to become more resilient, sustainable and digital. The vision it will contain is one that the social partners hope will set the agenda under the new mandate of the EU Parliament and Commission and ensure attention remains focused on the EU’s largest private employer.

“The twin transition – says Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa – requires social partners to discuss and share experiences, but also find ways to closely collaborate to make those transitions just. It’s about shaping a future where nobody is left behind”.  

“The sector is going through a tremendous transformation, and we are pleased to work together with our social partners to jointly call for EU policies supporting retail and wholesale and their competitiveness,” explains Christel Delberghe, Director General of EuroCommerce.

Underpinning the competitiveness of retail and wholesale, is the strength and skills of commerce workers. This requires tackling issues that concern them most day to day and anticipating change on the horizon.

Our joint work-programme foresees a first joint statement to address the protection commerce that workers need on the front line as violence and harassment from customers grows. A strong focus on upskilling and reskilling developments will complement the new job profiles that will emerge as the sector grows and becomes more competitive. EuroCommerce and UNI Europa are already committed to preparing for that future. Together we will aim to grow the Large Skills Partnership for the retail ecosystem into to a hub for cultivating collective intelligence in skilling, reskilling and upskilling workers. This will also be achieved through the Skils4Retail project, a four-year blueprint project that will create a pilot vocational training programme to prepare and lead the next generation of commerce workers to the sector.