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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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Retail alliances – working to get the best deal for Europe’s consumers
25 Oct 2021 open-close-item
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With the Commission today holding a workshop on joint purchasing and pursuing its review of horizontal competition rules, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

We are asking that the Commission review recognises even more strongly the pro-competitive effects of alliances. Alliances, which exist in all sectors of the economy, combine the sourcing of their members facing stronger, more concentrated suppliers. Retail alliances help, on behalf of Europe’s consumers, partially to rebalance the power of multinational brand manufacturers, whose products make up a large proportion of most consumers’ shopping baskets and customers expect to see on retailers’ shelves. This gives these global manufacturers considerable leverage in negotiating the prices and conditions under which they sell to European retailers, who operate in only a limited number of markets. Alliances also help to mitigate large manufacturers’ fragmentation of the single market and other practices aimed at increasing their already significant margins”.

Retail alliances ensure consumer benefits in terms of prices, choice and innovation, in a concentrated supplier market of large global suppliers. Numerous studies demonstrate that alliances’ activities, which typically involve negotiation of sourcing conditions and services, or the actual purchase of products, lead to a 5-7% reduction in consumer prices. The Commission has over the years explicitly underlined this positive impact of alliances, with Commissioner Breton pointing to this in the context of vaccines, and Executive Vice-President Vestager pointing to their pro-competitive role on numerous occasions.

Retailers face a wide range of abusive supplier practices. These unfair industry practices (UIP) include excessive pricing, abusive rebate schemes, Territorial Supply Constraints (TSCs), illicit denial to supply, requiring retailers to stock products which sell less well to gain access to popular lines, demanding minimum shelf space, and engaging in horizontal cartels. As demonstrated in the ABInBev case and a number of pending investigations, large global manufacturers actively fragment the single market costing Europe’s consumers at least €14bn per year. Meanwhile these global suppliers fully exploit the single market to manufacture their products and source their ingredients at European and global level.

The attached background note gives more detail.

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Joint Industry Statement on Targeted Advertisement and the DSA
25 Oct 2021 open-close-item
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 Introduction


The undersigned EU trade associations have been closely following and proactively engaging in the legislative process of the Proposal for a Regulation on a Single Market for Digital Services (Digital Services Act) and amending Directive 2000/31/EC.


As representatives of the wider retail sector, we believe the Digital Services Act (DSA) is of utmost importance for retailers in Europe to be able to increasingly operate cross-border, profit from a well-functioning Single Market and be supported by a harmonised and futureproof legislative framework. In particular due to the digital transformation of the industry, further accelerated by the outbreak of COVID-19, we believe that European policymakers should prioritise digitalisation and facilitate the continued uptake of digital solutions in the retail sector.


In that context, the undersigned would like to provide the perspective of the retail sector on the ongoing discussions on targeted advertisement. Following the publication of the DSA proposal with its new transparency obligations on online advertising, concerns have been raised about targeted advertising. As the negotiations are advancing in the European Parliament, the discussion on targeted advertisement has become a prominent element of the debate. Several Members of the European Parliament have advocated for the introduction of a ban or very strong restrictions on targeted advertising.


While the undersigned associations generally support increased transparency in online advertising, we believe a ban on targeted advertising would lead to negative consequences for both businesses and consumers and is therefore neither justified nor desirable. The DSA is also not the appropriate instrument to regulate online advertising.


Key points


This joint paper outlines in detail several areas of concern of the co-signatories, namely:
•The proposed ban on or severe restriction of targeted advertisement, including an opt-inrequirement, go beyond the objective and scope of the DSA proposal. The DSA is notintended to revise existing data protection rules.
•A ban on targeted advertisements would have far-reaching negative consequences for thecompetitiveness of SMEs, and thus the opposite effect of what some have argued.
•The legal ground required for the processing of personal data for targeted advertising is alreadysufficiently regulated in Article 6 of the GDPR and Article 5.3 of the e-Privacy Directive.The DSA should be aligned with the GDPR and e-Privacy Directive and not repeat alreadyexisting rules.
•Targeted online advertisements are already regulated by other relevant legislation, suchas Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD), the e-Privacy Directive and the Directive on Misleading and Comparative Advertising (MCAD).
•Rather than adding new rules on online advertising to another piece of legislation in an alreadycomplex legislative landscape, the focus should be on ensuring that existing rules areproperly executed and enforced at Member State level.


All these points are further developed in the following pages.


Importance of targeted advertising for SMEs


The undersigned associations generally welcome the provisions’ objectives in the Commission’s DSA proposal introducing further transparency obligations regarding online advertising for intermediary service providers. We believe these provisions can help to establish a fairer and more transparent advertising market. However, we fear that current discussions are placing a disproportionately strong focus on the potential negative aspects of targeted advertising. We would therefore like to provide some nuance to the discussion and demonstrate the impact of a potential ban.


Targeted advertisements and audience services are an important tool for retailers of all sizes to be able to reach consumers to offer their products and services, ensuring that consumers are met with relevant advertisements, instead of irrelevant and irritating ads for products and services, which is of no interest to them. In particular, following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent acceleration of digitalisation, a shift has taken place in which customer interactions have increasingly moved from an offline to an online environment. In that perspective, online advertising is essential for smaller retail businesses to interact with consumers that no longer visit physical stores to the same extent as before.


We consider it very important to ensure resilience across the wider supply chain. We would therefore like to point out that a ban or very strong restrictions on targeted advertising would in particular have a significant negative impact on the competitiveness of smaller retailers, which already comply with privacy and data protection rules and other relevant legislation. In the context of the DSA, personalisation is often confused with profiling and the spread of misinformation and fake news has been confused with advertisements for products, which are crucial for retailers and the functioning of the internal market.


SMEs use targeted online advertising to reach relevant consumers and measure return on investment in advertising carefully. Unlike larger companies, SMEs often operate on much smaller budgets, and do not have the resources or brand recognition that larger, more established companies have. In addition, a ban would increase the competitive advantage of bigger companies vis-a-vis SMEs, as large corporations would already have significant amounts of (potential) customers within their ecosystem. In contextual advertising, the content of a website is scanned for keywords or other environment parameters (e.g. images, videos) to be able to identify the interests of the user and link the advertising to that. As the advertising would only be linked to relevant contexts and not to the customer, it makes it much harder to reach new audiences and build and/or expand a brand.


As a result it is much harder for new small market entrants to compete with large and well-established competitors Contextual advertising as an alternative has thus simply proved ineffective and unaffordable for many smaller companies, as they cannot afford the more extensive advertising campaigns that would be required (in the absence of targeted advertisement) to reach the same relevant audience. This is confirmed by a study from Deloitte from May 2021 which polled more than 30.000 SME founders/owners/managers in 18 countries1. In addition according to a study by Ipsos2, the importance for SMEs is also recognised by users, of which a majority (68% in the EU) thinks personalized ads help local small businesses connect with customers who find their products and services useful, and can help them attract more customers.


Furthermore, as the recently published European E-Commerce Report 20213 shows, the number and share of e-shoppers has increased significantly in the last years, and in particular in the year 2020. Thisnmeans that consumers increasingly find retail companies and their products or services online. To ensure a level playing field and for SMEs to be able to compete on a European scale with larger companies, the use of targeted advertisements is thus essential.


We would also like to add that targeted advertising for products and services can also be beneficial for consumers, as it can be more tailored to consumer needs (e.g., for a dog owner it does not make sense to get advertisements for cat food). It is also important to note that a ban on targeting advertising would not mean that consumers would no longer receive advertisements, instead, the consumer will only receive less relevant content which will likely not result in an improved online experience. In particular, according to a recent study conducted by BCG, customers increasingly prefer am easy and fast shopping experience that helps them make purchase decisions. Customers think less about personalization per se than they do about the benefits it can provide4. Moreover, targeted advertisement is not a phenomenon limited to the online world. The advertisements we see on TV or in printed magazines for example are also always targeted to a specific audience i.e., the readers or viewers of these media formats. In addition, in brick-and-mortar retail, when a shop consultant consults a customer on which suit to buy, he or she will also screen the customer and make recommendations based on his or her size, style and the perceived budget. It is therefore important to consider that banning or severely restricting targeted advertisement only for online channels, would lead to an unequal treatment of the different channels.


In the last years, there have been strong efforts from the industry to innovate and make advertising more transparent while respecting the consumers’ fundamental rights. Our organisations believe that, these improvements could address many of the concerns that are currently being voiced in the European Parliament with regards to targeted advertising. In addition, it is crucial to ensure that any obligations are reflected throughout the entire supply chain, as all actors in the advertising ecosystem contribute to the advertising displayed to consumers. To ensure a high level of transparency, any new legislation should thus ensure that the entire supply chain is subject to such an obligation, otherwise it will be an impossible task for online platforms to reach a level of transparency that the consumers can easily understand. Moreover, we believe that including further rules on online advertising in the DSA will likely not have the intended effect, but instead stifle innovation and growth as start-up companies and SMEs will not have access to the same data ecosystem as larger companies. Instead of introducing a ban or severe limitations on targeted advertisements, legislation should focus on improving transparency, encouraging industry initiatives aimed at further transparency and ensuring equal competitive opportunities for businesses by stimulating proper enforcement of the existing rules.


Targeted advertising is already sufficiently regulated in more suitable legislation


We believe that the DSA is not the right instrument to introduce any provisions on banning or severely restricting targeted advertisements for the whole market using online platforms. Most importantly, the objective and scope of the DSA is not to regulate the full online advertisements sector or to revise existing rules on data protection.


We would like to point out that targeted online advertisements are already regulated by other relevant legislation. With regards to commercial advertising of products or services, this is already sufficiently regulated in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD), the e-Privacy Directive and the Directive on Misleading and Comparative Advertising (MCAD). In addition, more specific sectors or elements of online advertising are further regulated in Audiovisual Media Services Directive, and the Platform-to-Business (P2B) Regulation. Instead of introducing new provisions on targeted adverting in the DSA, policymakers should consider including a clarification in the current revision of the UCPD and CRD guidance documents and how such legislation applies to targeted advertisement practices, including case law.


Alignment with the GDPR


The DSA should also be seen as complementary to existing legislation such as the GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive. The DSA proposal states that the requirements of the DSA on the provision of information relating to advertisement are without prejudice to the application of the relevant GDPR provisions. However, the proposals currently discussed in the European Parliament go beyond what is already well regulated in the GDPR. The Draft Report of IMCO Rapporteur Christel Schaldemose, proposes to include a provision stating that providers of intermediary services “shall, by default, not make the recipients of their services subject to targeted, microtargeted and behavioural advertisement unless the recipient of the service has expressed a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent.” Our organisations believe that there already are suitable and sufficient legal grounds, required under Article 6 of the GDPR for the processing of personal data for targeted advertising and we are concerned about the proposals which seem to introduce consent into the DSA and partly re-write the GDPR.


Undersigned associations would therefore like to stress that it is crucial to first ensure proper enforcement of the rules under the GDPR, which we consider to be a proper protection of the fundamental rights of the data subjects, also with regards to targeted advertisements. The rules in the DSA on targeted advertisements should neither repeat already existing legislation, which could sufficiently address the concerns raised in Parliament when properly executed and enforced, nor aim to amend indirectly such legislation. We therefore urge policymakers to ensure the DSA respects, and is closely aligned with, the GDPR and e-Privacy Directive.


Focus on enforcement & proper impact assessment


Furthermore, since many existing pieces of legislation are sufficiently covering online advertising and targeted advertising, we believe the priority should be to ensure that these rules are properly enforced at Member State level. Rather than adding another rule on online advertising to another piece of legislation in an already complex legislative landscape, policymakers should enhance cooperation and coordination between the wide range of relevant regulatory. Moreover, when introducing new provisions, it needs to be thoroughly checked that they do not conflict with existing legislation.


Our organisations are concerned about the stage of the legislative process during which these far-reaching measures are being discussed. We believe that before policymakers could introduce a ban or strict limitation on targeted advertisements, they would first need to thoroughly analyse the current situation to be able to properly identify if there are any specific problems. The EU institutions should adhere to their own EU Interinstitutional Agreement on better Law Making, and first carry out an in-depth impact assessment, supported by public stakeholder consultations before undertaking legislative action. Additionally, it is unclear what “targeted advertisements” in this context precisely entail. There are different practices that could be considered targeted advertisements, including for instance political advertisements, segmented advertising, contextual advertising, and behavioural targeting. It appears that many concerns are focused on the risks regarding political advertising, such as fake news and manipulation of elections. We understand these concerns, but believe that they can better be solved with a targeted approach, rather than via a horizontal ban on all targeted advertising, including for commercial purposes like the marketing of products.

Statement co-signed by Ecommerce Europe, EuroCommerce & Independent Retail Europe

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1 In this study, 52% stated that traditional advertising does not reach their target audience in an effective way, 33% considered traditional advertising methods to be unaffordable for their business, while 76% using personalized ads reported that they were
effective in finding new customers for their business. See Deloitte (May 2021) Dynamic Markets Unlocking small business innovation and growth through the rise of the personalized economy.


2 Ipsos/Facebook (June 2021) People Globally View Personalized Ads as a Valuable Tool for Finding Relevant Goods and Services.


3 Lone, S., Harboul, N. & Weltevreden, J.W.J. (2021). 2021 European E-commerce Report. Amsterdam/Brussels: Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences & Ecommerce Europe. (Jointly launched by Ecommerce Europe & EuroCommerce)

4 Mark Abraham, Robert Archacki, Josep Esteve González, and Stefano Fanfarillo (June 4, 2019) The Next Level of Personalization in Retail (bcg.com)

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Retailers and wholesalers working for sustainable food supply chain
19 Oct 2021 open-close-item
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As MEPs discuss the European Parliament’s report on the Farm-to-Fork strategy, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“Retailers and wholesalers have a strong interest in working to meet consumer demand for sustainably produced food.  As responsible actors playing a central role in the supply chain, we seek to cooperate with all our suppliers to deliver on our shared commitment to sustainability. We therefore support the Farm-to-Fork strategy’s overall objectives and will work to make our contribution to sustainable food systems which benefit consumers and the rest of the supply chain.”

EuroCommerce and many of its members signed up to the Farm-to-Fork Code of Conduct, confirming our commitment to work on responsible food business and marketing practices.  Our members already have in place a wide range of initiatives promoting more sustainable options, including guaranteed orders for farmers during the transition to organic. By providing the possibility of selling larger volumes, our sector is helping to reward farmers adopting sustainable practices and allowing a wider range of consumers access to more sustainable food at affordable prices.

Our sector wants Farm-to-Fork to achieve its ambitious objectives, and in a way in which all players can benefit, from farmers to the final consumer.  No one part of the supply chain can do so on its own, and we will be asking the Commission to collaborate with all parties to build cooperative and effective dialogue, but also to adopt practical approaches which are transparent about the impact of the policies and ensure that they work with the grain of the market and consumer interests.

We regret to hear some misperceptions of the concentration of retail.

The sector is aware of its role to support sustainable behaviour and practices, but we don’t have all the solutions alone. On food waste, it is important that it is addressed throughout the food chain, but remembering that retail is responsible for no more than 5% of food waste, and has achieved major results, e.g. through optimised sourcing or donation, to reduce this even further. Public authorities and, for example, their tax treatment of donations would help further to reduce waste and get even more wholesome food going to households which need it.  53% of food waste still arises in the home and we are also active in helping consumers both save money and reduce waste with many ideas on how to plan what they buy and how to use up what they have in their fridges.

Retail and wholesale are subject to a significant level of competition. Such competition is the best way to ensure that consumers have a wide choice of innovative products at the best price. We are actively working to make our operations as sustainable as possible. Multiple examples of all the sector’s sustainability initiatives are set out on our dedicated website #sustainablecommerce

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Christel Delberghe to be new EuroCommerce Director-General
18 Oct 2021 open-close-item
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Juan Manuel Morales, President of EuroCommerce and Managing Director of IFA, a leading retail group in Spain, Portugal and Italy, today announced the appointment of Christel Delberghe as the new Director-General of EuroCommerce.  Christel will take over from Christian Verschueren from 15 November.  Mr Morales said:

“Christel’s appointment is the culmination of a thorough and competitive recruitment process in which Christel came out as the very strongest candidate.  This was endorsed unanimously by the EuroCommerce Board.  Both they and I have been impressed by Christel’s knowledge of and passion for the retail and wholesale sector, which she has served in various roles over the last 20 years in EuroCommerce. She has shown energy and commitment in pursuing a wide range of projects covering some of the most important issues confronting our sector.  As the first woman to head EuroCommerce, Christel will be a very worthy successor to Christian, to whom I pay tribute now for his dedication to our sector, his leadership over the last 10 years, and the solid foundation he is leaving behind.”

Christel Delberghe added:

“I am proud and grateful for the confidence that EuroCommerce’s members have shown in appointing me as their Director-General. Retail and wholesale is very diverse and faces immense challenges over the coming years. Digital and sustainability are transforming our sector. I look forward to working with our members and EU decision-makers to achieve a regulatory and policy framework that supports the transformation and the significant investment needed to remain competitive and serve customers every day.”

Christel, is currently EuroCommerce’s Executive Director for Competitiveness and Communications, leading action on commercial relations and competition issues. She also looks after the interests of wholesalers and SMEs. In her more recent role as Director for Communications, she has developed a new communication strategy for the organisation.

She joined EuroCommerce in 2001 to lead the office of the then Secretary-General. Prior to EuroCommerce, Christel, a French national, worked on EU affairs for a British retailer and in a public affairs agency. She has degrees in Economics and European affairs from the University Lyon II and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Christel and her partner have three children. She enjoys reading, theatre, and sports.

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Single VAT ID Registration: Towards a Unified VAT Solution
06 Oct 2021 open-close-item
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Joint Paper with Ecommerce Europe

The need for a Single VAT ID

Introduced on 1 July 2021, the VAT One-Stop Shop (OSS) has greatly simplified VAT compliance for businesses, especially for SMEs seeking to trade across the EU, as it allows businesses to register for VAT, file VAT returns and pay for the VAT due in multiple EU countries, via just one EU country. This is a fundamental and concrete simplification of what businesses have always found a complex VAT system.

However, the OSS can only be used for sales of goods or services to final consumers (B2C) by EU businesses selling cross-border within the EU. It does not apply to those traders that store and fulfil stock locally across the EU. This means that, despite the changes introduced by the VAT E-commerce Package, these businesses still have to register for VAT in every Member State in which they store goods, and file VAT returns, costing €8.000 every year for each EU country of storage.

We therefore see the need for an extension of the VAT One Stop Shop, allowing all businesses to report all EU supplies and inventory movements in a single VAT return, and removing the unnecessary VAT compliance burden.

Benefits of a unified VAT solution

Simplifying VAT registration and compliance by extending the VAT OSS system will lower the compliance costs of companies selling goods online and reduce administrative burdens. Businesses would find it much easier and faster to register and pay VAT throughout the EU, with easier access, particularly for SMEs, to intra-EU trade in the single market. Equally important, it will allow EU traders to become more competitive in an increasingly globalised and omnichannel retail environment.

This will also benefit member states’ tax administrations through improved VAT compliance and a simple solution to ensure that all cross-border goods movements can be easily audited within a single OSS scheme. The expected increase in trade from this change will create additional VAT revenues to fund public services. And last but not least, end-consumers will benefit from a larger choice of products, more competitive prices and a faster delivery.

Check out our Position Papers
Ecommerce Europe
EuroCommerce

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Single VAT ID Registration Towards a Unified VAT Solution
06 Oct 2021 open-close-item
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Joint Press Release with Ecommerce Europe

Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce today jointly launched an awareness campaign on the importance of a Single VAT ID Registration.

On 1 July 2021, new VAT rules for e-commerce sales to consumers entered into application, extending the VAT One Stop Shop system to e-commerce distance selling and introducing an Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS). Both Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce warmly welcomed the introduction of these simplification measures. However, one of the flaws of the new rules is that they do not address the issue of VAT registration for sellers holding stock in multiple Member States in order to be as close as possible to the consumers. In practice, e-merchants still have to maintain their foreign VAT registrations in every EU country where they are sending or holding stock. To address this issue, Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce recommend policymakers to extend the existing VAT OSS to all shipments of merchandise where the seller of record is not located in the EU country of taxation, and in particular to:

1. cross-border movement of own inventory across the EU,
2. domestic sales from distribution hubs by a seller that is not established in that EU country.

Luca Cassetti, Secretary-General of Ecommerce Europe, commented: “The new VAT OSS and IOSS are a success story and a milestone in the EU efforts to simplify VAT legislation. However, businesses with multiple warehouses in EU countries still need to VAT-register in each country of storage. This is costly and burdensome, especially for SMEs. Introducing a Single VAT ID Registration Number by extending the existing VAT OSS would greatly reduce administrative procedures and help businesses thrive in the EU Single Market.

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce, commented: “As retailers are major collectors of VAT we have always supported any efforts to facilitate VAT compliance across the EU. The VAT e-commerce package has delivered much, but some barriers remain. We look forward to the Commission VAT in the Digital Age initiative to be presented in the coming months, and hope that they will use the opportunity to remove remaining barriers to digital trade and expand the VAT OSS to pan-EU storage and onward sales.

Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce fully support the European Commission’s ambition, outlined in its Fair and Simple Taxation Package , to further reduce VAT-related barriers for cross-border trade in the EU and publish a legislative initiative to amend the EU VAT Directive  and move towards a single EU VAT registration.

Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce have jointly launched a new website with materials, an informative video and communication tools to raise awareness on the benefits of a Single VAT ID in Europe and prioritise the publication of the Commission’s legislation already in 2022.

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E-commerce still growing: accelerated digitalisation of businesses and consumers
23 Sep 2021 open-close-item
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Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce today jointly published the 2021 European E-commerce Report. In 2020, total European e-commerce grew to €757 billion euros, up 10% from €690 billion euros in 2019.

2020 was an exceptional year, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent important role of e-commerce for both society and economy. This is also reflected in the growth figures, which remained significant (10%), but dropped slightly compared to 2019 (14%). COVID-19 gave a significant boost to e-commerce sales, but the sharp decline of online sales in the tourism and services sector (events, tickets, etc.) contributed to holding back overall growth.

The pandemic had a massive impact on developments in the retail sector. The lockdown accelerated the existing trend towards the digital and green transition of stores. Their investments in digital and omnichannel, which were originally planned over several years, were carried out in just a few months. E-commerce was a lifeline for consumers, as government restrictions such as forced shop closures, prevented them from buying what they needed in stores. While e-commerce has not fully compensated the losses that many brick-and-mortar SMEs experienced, it has absorbed a large part of the economic shock. However, further work is needed to ensure the wider retail sector can optimally benefit from the solutions offered by the digital transformation.

Luca Cassetti, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, commented: “The past year has exposed the importance of digital transformation. E-commerce has proven to be exceptionally well placed to facilitate the digitalisation of retail and create a seamless shopping experience for consumers. Physical stores opened up new online sales channels, SMEs have been able to access new markets through e-commerce, and merchants have increasingly adopted omnichannel commerce solutions, such as click-and-collect, to accommodate the ever-changing health requirements and consumer needs. However, the transition is not yet completed. Policymakers need to recognise the potential of digital commerce and invest more in new technologies and digital skills while creating a harmonised, channel-neutral and future-proof legislative framework”. 

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce, commented: “The retail and wholesale sector is going through a significant transformation process. Government restrictions and rising consumer demand accelerated digitalisation. Consumers who were hitherto unfamiliar with buying online or on their mobile devices have become accustomed to it, and are likely to continue to use this and a mixture of channels. Before the pandemic, 70% of retailers and wholesalers had no facilities for online sales, and those physical stores who did have an online presence overcame the challenges better.  But the problem remains, and we are calling on governments and EU policy makers to support the digital transformation of the sector, address unjustified manufacturer restrictions on selling on online platforms, and create a regulatory framework that provides for a channel-neutral and future-proof policy environment”.

Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce would like to thank the Centre for Market Insights of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences for preparing this report.

To download the light version of the report, please click here.

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2021 European E-Commerce Report
23 Sep 2021 open-close-item
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The 2021 Report, jointly published by Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce, presents the main figures and trends related to the e-commerce sector in Europe, with country-by-country and sectorial analyses, interviews with heads of leading national ecommerce associations and other valuable information for merchants, policymakers and other stakeholders.

The 2021 report shows that Western Europe is the strongest region in terms of B2C e-commerce turnover, holding 64% of the total turnover for 2020. Southern Europe follows in second place with just 16% of total turnover, while Central Europe (8%), Northern and Eastern Europe (both 6%) come in last. The leaders in B2C e-commerce turnover remain the United Kingdom (€236 billion), France (€112 billion), Germany (€93.6 billion), and Spain (€68.4 billion). However, the highest growth rates in e-commerce turnover were found in Greece (77%), Moldova (49%), Russia (41%), Switzerland, North Macedonia (37%), and Sweden (36%).

Other key findings show that internet use in Europe increased to 89% in 2020, up from 87% in 2019 and 85% in 2018, with Western Europe (95%) catching up with Northern Europe (96%). The number of online shoppers increased faster during 2020 than in the last 4 years with 71% of the population having purchased from an e-store (up from 66% in 2019, and 64% in 2018). Western Europe boasts the highest share of e-shoppers (86%), followed by Northern European consumers (82%). The United Kingdom had the highest share of online shoppers (92%), followed by the Netherlands (91%), Denmark and Switzerland (90%), Germany and Norway (87%), and Sweden (86%). The lowest share of online shoppers was found in for instance Moldova (34%), Albania (37%), Ukraine and North Macedonia (40%), Bulgaria (42%), and Russia (43%).

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EU Organic Day - Retailers and wholesalers linking supply with demand
23 Sep 2021 open-close-item
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Marking the first annual EU Organic Day, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said today:

“We have seen consumers increasingly choosing organic foods over the past 20 years and this trend continues, with a double digit annual growth in the sales of organic products. Retailers and wholesalers have been active in promoting organic, both in fresh produce and in their own brands. They have worked to forge close long-term supply relationships with farmers, including helping them to make the transition to organic. They have also helped make this economically attractive by providing a market for increased volumes.

We see this as an important element in building sustainable food systems. We are therefore pleased to see Commissioner Wojciechowski’s initiative in launching the EU Organic Day today as the UN general assembly discusses sustainable food. The EU Organic Day will, we hope, each year help the growth of successful organic production in Europe, and underline the other prerequisite for success in doing so: further building consumer demand for and appreciation of the benefits of, organically produced food.”

EuroCommerce and its members have shown their commitment to sustainable food, being both closely involved in the drafting of the EU Code of Conduct and one of its first signatories when it was launched in July.  We have also shown how our sector has been proactive in adopting best practice in sustainability and promoting healthy lifestyles in our dedicated website #sustainablecommerce.

It is therefore natural that we also support this new Commission initiative, which fits closely with the objectives of the Farm-to-Fork strategy.  A recent EuroCommerce/McKinsey report showed that over half of consumers want to buy more sustainable products, but that many also need to look at the price.  Affordability will be important if organic products are to be available not just to the better off, but to everyone. Helping consumers to understand the benefits of organic production can also help to overcome this barrier.

An important factor in boosting the market for organic is ensuring that the right level of supply.  Consumers will turn to organic if they see more on the shelves; and demand is therefore likely to increase with adequate supply from within the EU or from outside where there is a need. Retailers and wholesalers have already helped by providing scope for increasing volumes for organic and thus the viability of producers. This will allow them to sell at a price which is both attractive to consumers and adequately rewards their efforts. It is important that EU and national policy helps the market develop in this positive way.

All in the supply chain have found the long-term relationships which our companies have built up with farmers and the food industry helpful in driving the move to organic and in meeting growing consumer demand. Uptake of organic is uneven, with most production, processing and sales focused in Western Europe, and still low in Central and Eastern Europe. All these efforts could be reinforced by more activity at national level to promote organic products with producers and consumers, particularly in those countries where uptake is still slow.

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Commissioner Wojciechowski speaks to retailers & wholesalers on agriculture of the future
22 Sep 2021 open-close-item
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In the latest of the series of EuroCommerce Policy Talks, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski is speaking today on his vision for the future of European agriculture, and addressing a range of issues related to it.  These include the impact of the COVID crisis on agriculture, sustainable food systems and the EU Farm-to-Fork strategy, food waste and food security, farmers’ income and regulation in the food supply chain, and the global and trade aspects of agriculture.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“As world leaders gather this week in New York to discuss sustainable food systems, we are very pleased to welcome Commissioner Wojciechowski to our Policy Talk on sustainable agriculture. As a vital link with consumers in the food supply chain, retailers and wholesalers have been very active in supporting the Farm-to-Fork objectives and addressing the accelerating transition to sustainability across the supply chain. They have been working with suppliers both of branded goods and our retailer brands to respond to and encourage consumer demand for sustainable food options and a healthy lifestyle, as well as reducing the environmental impact of their own business. Although retailers buy very little directly from farmers – less than 5% of what they sell – they have a shared interest in a globally competitive agriculture sector which prospers and successfully embraces this transition.  This needs a regulatory regime which supports dialogue and cooperation rather than national protectionism or inappropriate legislation from which neither farmers nor consumers benefit”.

Retailers and wholesalers are fully committed to realising the overall objective of the Farm-to-Fork strategy to create a sustainable food system.  EuroCommerce was one of the first to sign the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices launched in July, and has set out examples of a wide range of initiatives on sustainability and healthy lifestyles on its dedicated website #sustainablecommerce.

The Policy Talk can be accessed online on the dedicated EuroCommerce Policy Talks website or directly on YouTube.

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