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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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Taxation

EuroCommerce at World Retail Congress: 'Engage with politicians and keep asking for open markets'
16 May 2019 open-close-item
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Speaking this morning at the World Retail Congress in Amsterdam, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said: “Over the next five years, the new European Parliament and Commission will need to address multiple challenges, both external and internal, for Europe. Globally, and in many of our markets we see a worrying increase in protectionism. Populist voices offer simple but wrong solutions to complex issues, and risk the welfare of the people they claim to represent. The retail and wholesale sector is a major player in building Europe for the next generation, but also uniquely vulnerable to adverse economic and policy movements. This is particularly true when we all face fundamental changes – in business models, in the way customers buy, in supply chain relations and the competitive landscape, driven by digital technology and changing consumer demand."

Retailers, wholesalers, importers and exporters, all rely on goods and services moving freely across Europe - and the world. In Europe, the single market is our most effective tool for growth and jobs, yet it is being nibbled away at by populist policies. The international trading system, which has brought so much prosperity to the world over the last 70 years, is being undermined by the same protectionist approaches.

Verschueren added:

“Trade wars are destructive, and do damage to economies and individuals. As a sector, we need to communicate to a wide audience the benefits of open markets and free trade, both within Europe and globally. This means preserving and building on a fair and balanced system to allow countries all around the world to trade on their strengths in a way which benefits everyone.”

The EuroCommerce Director-General spoke at a session with leaders of international retail associations from China and USA on how to ensure that the voice of retail is strong and clear in advocating the approaches at national, European, and global level needed to drive positive change in policies. Verschueren commented: "We need a clear voice of retail across the world to combat short-sighted protectionist policies. Politicians are increasingly asking retailers to speak out for the benefit they bring to societies. This is what we do and are encouraging the leaders to do more themselves as well, collectively through our associations, and individually as company leaders.”

EuroCommerce is partnering for the second year with the World Retail Congress (WRC) in their annual event. The Congress brings together leaders from across the industry to discuss the future of global retailing.

-ENDS-

Contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu   
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Retailers and wholesalers commend Commission action on AB InBev
13 May 2019 open-close-item
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Speaking today about the agreed resolution of the Commission’s investigation of AB InBev’s actions in hampering cross-border sales of beer, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented:

“This is a very welcome outcome on an issue which we have been raising as a problem for many years. Manufacturers have been using a number of different practices to fragment the Single Market, some of these clearly illegitimate, and to the detriment of consumers by restricting choice and maintaining artificially high prices. We hope that this action will set a clear message for manufacturers of other products and in other sectors that this long-standing fragmentation of the Single Market will need to end”.

The action investigated by the Commission, which aimed at preventing cross-border sales of a number of AB InBev brands is by no means unique to this case. These so-called “Territorial Supply Constraints” are widespread, and represent a blatant fragmentation of the EU Single Market. They can take many forms, but are essentially illegitimate practices imposed by large suppliers where these restrictions are not justified by differences in national rules or standards, or by consumer preferences. For example, these can take the form of:

  • Manufacturers refusing to supply, limiting the quantities they can buy, or threatening to halt supplies altogether;
  • Suppliers differentiating product ranges between Member States for no reason except enforcing their own choice of distribution channel;
  • Substantial differences in price and other sales conditions;
  • Limiting language options to hamper cross-border purchasing.

They mean that retailers and wholesalers are unable to source centrally and distribute goods across their networks from one EU country to another, or offer to sell online to customers in another EU country. It often also means that retailers cannot access the full range offered by the supplier, while increasingly manufacturers are selling their whole range to consumers directly online.

The Commission has recognised these practices as a real problem and a barrier to the proper working of the Single Market in their communication “European retail sector fit for the 21st century”[1] and creating problems in addressing concerns in some countries about so-called dual quality products, recently included in the revision of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

Verschueren added:

“We will be working with the Commission to help ensure that competition and Single Market rules are applied strictly to put an end to these illegitimate and abusive practices”.

-ENDS-

Contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu   
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   



[1] Commission Communication COM(2018)219

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“This time I’m voting” - EuroCommerce supports campaign to mobilise citizens to vote in European elections
09 May 2019 open-close-item
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Speaking today on the occasion of Schuman Day, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said: “On 9 May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman issued the declaration which laid the foundations of what, some 70 years later, has grown into today’s European Union. This is indeed an achievement we should all celebrate today. The EU has brought all of us immense benefits, which it is sometimes easy to take for granted.”

In 1950, people in Europe often needed visas and to cross from one country to another; complex permission to settle and work; many different currencies; and a higher purchasing power to pay for more expensive goods and services. Today, even in these days of heightened security and concerns about illegal migration, we can travel freely around Europe. If we fall ill in another EU country, we can be treated under the same conditions as locals.  We can choose to live and work in another country. Students can gain the invaluable experience of studying in a foreign university. European social and environmental standards and consumer rules help protect Europe’s citizens and ensure that their food and drinking water are safe.

For retailers and wholesalers, the EU has allowed to buy and sell across Europe. They have been able to rely on European law to help overcome barriers which may arise. A strong Europe, able to strike extensive trade deals with third countries, has helped us source the best products the world has to offer for our consumers and business customers. Harmonised rules make it easier to sell goods and services across Europe. This common framework has helped to create jobs and growth in all our countries, and bring prosperity to Europeans.

It is far too easy to forget how far we have come over these last 70 years. While there is still a lot more that we need to work on, it is worth reflecting on what in the Brussels jargon is called ‘the acquis communautaire’. Even more so that there are forces both inside and outside Europe that are working at undermining the European project. This is why EuroCommerce supports many of its member organisations and other business federations that encourage more Europeans to take a deep interest in the European debate, and go out and vote in the European elections at the end of the month. Verschueren added: “We ignore at our peril the need to keep Europe working to preserve and reinforce those freedoms we enjoy every day. There is a lot at stake in these upcoming European elections. Citizens have traditionally taken less interest in the European elections than in national ones. Or, sadly, European elections are fought on national issues rather than on fundamental strategies for the EU. That is why we call on Europe’s voters to take a keen interest in Europe, and get out and vote this month, to ensure that their voice is heard in the new European Parliament.”

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Contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu   
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Statement from the European business community on the 2019 European Parliament elections
02 May 2019 open-close-item
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The European Union is one of, if not the greatest, achievements of our shared history. It has provided for long-lasting peace across our continent and has brought European people together around the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, freedom and equality.

The European business community remains committed to defending these common values and strongly believes in the benefits of the European Union, particularly its Single Market and our common currency, the Euro. Despite various challenges, the EU project has remained resilient and strong and even though not yet perfect in many regards, the positive impacts of EU integration by far outweigh the negative. 

The EU has been instrumental in making the European way of life that we cherish today a reality, and European business has played a key role in enabling this. We have a responsibility to defend what we have achieved and to make sure that Europe is the best place in the world to live, work and do business.

Democracy needs to be lived in order to remain alive. We therefore urge citizens, and specifically our colleagues from business across the continent, to help shape our common future by voting in the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019.

As European business representatives, we will continue to contribute to a successful European project and a united Europe that delivers for its workers and enterprises.

-ENDS-

Contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu   

 

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Retailers commend European Commission for swift action against discriminatory Slovak tax
02 Apr 2019 open-close-item
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Commenting today on the European Commission announcement of an in-depth investigation into to the Slovak Retail Tax Law and an injunction suspending the application of the law, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:

“We commend the Commission for acting swiftly to investigate, and meanwhile suspend, the Slovak retail tax under state aid rules. This decision is a signal to Member States that they are not allowed to discriminate against foreign-owned retailers who have contributed substantially in terms of investment and commitment to their markets. It is sad that Member States are less and less committed to the single market, and are prepared to deprive consumers of more choice and better prices for short-term political gain.”

EuroCommerce lodged a complaint against the tax in December 2018. The tax, which applied almost exclusively to foreign-owned companies active in the country, requires them to pay 2.5% of their net turnover, from which the Slovak government expected to raise €100 million. The EuroCommerce complaints focused on its clear view that the tax was incompatible with EU law on two counts. By exempting most Slovak-owned retail chains, the tax constituted unlawful state aid, similar to retail taxes previously proposed in Poland and Hungary, and subsequently found illegal by the Commission. Secondly, the discriminatory nature of the tax infringed the clear Treaty principle of freedom of establishment.

Last week, the Slovak parliament approved two further questionable amendments to the Slovak Food Law, obliging food operators to ensure 50% of food and agricultural products advertised is of Slovak origin, and another obliging food operators to pay any fine, even if they appeal against it. This is important as Slovak enforcement authorities often impose high fines of up to €1 million even for minor infringements that do not jeopardize consumer safety, with a focus on foreign-owned retailers.

Verschueren added:

“The retail and wholesale sector relies, like all business, on the EU single market working properly and competition law underpinning this. Where some people are questioning competition law and its relationship with business, this is a clear demonstration of how the Commission’s vigilance and application of the rules provides concrete help to businesses and above all, consumers, to benefit from EU rules.”

EuroCommerce press release 4 February 2019

-ENDS-

Contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu   
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Towards a Taxation System for the Digitalised Economy
02 Apr 2019 open-close-item
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Innovation has always been a driving force in the retail and wholesale sector. It has made shopping more convenient, more enjoyable and more cost-effective. The rapid spread of digitalisation has transformed the face of the industry, with physical and digital components of the shopping experience no longer easily separated. Against this background, there is a consensus that international tax rules are no longer fully fit for purpose and that the current tax rulebook has created unfair outcomes in a number of areas. This contributes to a sense of distrust and is damaging business confidence, which we consider vital to the success of the economy and wider society.

EuroCommerce wants to engage in the discussion and make a positive contribution to the international tax reform debate, to move it forward and deliver actionable results.
To make the tax system suitable for the digitalised economy, EuroCommerce calls for the modernisation of existing international tax rules, consistent with the following principles:

  • Fair - A modern taxation system should be channel-neutral and operate equitably across industries and between different forms of business activities and business models. A neutral tax system will contribute to efficiency by ensuring an optimal distribution of fiscal liabilities. Any form of corporate tax should be based on economic profits generated and not on its revenues. Tax systems and rules should also seek to avoid double taxation and non-taxation arising from uncoordinated government decisions. Taxes particularly targeted at specific retail and wholesale business models should be abolished and avoided.
  • Simple - Tax rules should be clear, simple to understand and predictable. A reform of the taxation system should not lead to higher compliance costs.
  • Proportional - Administrative burdens for retailers and wholesalers should be in adequate proportion with the tax revenues generated.
  • Enforceable - Rules should be globally enforceable, especially in respect of non-EU businesses, thus ensuring EU businesses are not at a competitive disadvantage.
  • International - The OECD and the G20 are the best platforms to deliver the most effective and fairest outcome. National stand-alone measures risk fragmenting the market further and should be avoided.
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Joint action needed to tackle problems of plastic waste
27 Mar 2019 open-close-item
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Speaking today ahead of the European Parliament vote on the Plastics directive, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren warned that the directive needs to be implemented properly and to avoid distorting the Single Market:

“We are as a sector already actively doing our bit in reducing plastic waste, but to do so effectively we need consistent implementation, and the engagement of the whole supply chain and public authorities to achieve real reductions in single-use plastic and marine litter. Without a proper waste management infrastructure and sufficient recycling facilities we will not achieve a circular economy or the objectives of this directive”.

While retailers and wholesalers have doubts about certain parts of the final compromise, particularly on waste and litter management systems, we welcome the flexibility that the directive allows for economic actors to use alternative or existing measures to reach the waste management targets under the directive. But above all, the Commission needs to issue clear guidelines to ensure that the directive is implemented consistently and in a way which is workable.

Retailers and wholesalers have actively engaged in decreasing the volume of plastics used in their stores and in the supply chain and thus their impact on the environment. A number of our members have made pledges on plastics reduction with the European Commission, and others committed through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation or the Consumer Goods Forum.

In concrete terms, these commitments mean the absolute elimination of unnecessary single-use plastics items, higher levels of recycled content in products, and innovative approaches such as “natural branding”, with laser printing directly on the peel of fruit and vegetables to eliminate plastic stickers or other packaging.

Verschueren added:

“Looking beyond today’s vote, the Commission will have important work to do in producing implementation guidelines to ensure consistent rules across Europe on crucial elements of the directive like the definition of single-use plastics and the criteria on the clean-up costs of litter, and ensuring commitment by the whole supply chain.”

-ENDS-

Contact:

Kinga Timaru-Kast - +32 2 894 64 83 - timaru@eurocommerce.eu   
Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Infographics: Keeping consumers safe
25 Mar 2019 open-close-item
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Consumer confidence is the number one priority for retailers and wholesalers. To maintain this confidence and ensure that customers come back, they are committed to ensuring a high level of product safety and quality.

The infographics explains the different steps a product goes through until it reaches the customer, and the roles and responsibilities of each actor in the supply chain to ensure the safety and quality of a product. Indeed, retailers and wholesalers are in the forefront of addressing identified risks and non-compliance. They actively cooperate with enforcement authorities to make sure that measures are taken quickly to correct or avoid product safety risks and to inform the manufacturer or the importer. These actions, combined with consistent, fair and effective enforcement, will help ensure that only safe products are placed on the market.

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Guidance on the Origin Indication of the Primary Ingredient
22 Mar 2019 open-close-item
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This Guidance aims to provide a common understanding of the adopted provisions to interested stakeholders, such as food business operators (both small and medium-sized enterprises and large food business operators) as well as EU and national policy-makers.

Please note that an EU guidance is currently in development and may differ from this EuroCommerce/FoodDrinkEurope/FPF guidance. 

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Joint Business Statement in view of the Trilogue discussion on the proposal on Modernisation of EU Consumer Law
14 Mar 2019 open-close-item
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In view of the upcoming trilogue discussions on the proposal to modernise consumer law, the undersigning organisations would like to reiterate our support for effective consumer protection and enforcement within the Single Market. The evidence put forward by the European Commission in its REFIT confirmed that the current consumer rules still address well the need for consumer trust, and encourage a healthy competitive environment. We have therefore welcomed the Commission’s targeted approach, focusing on key areas rather than an overhaul of the entire legal framework. However, the coregulators’ approaches substantially change the scope of the Commission’s proposal, which raises concerns for businesses who will now face new and fragmented rules.

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Filter by:

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2019

2018

2017

2016

Filter by:

all

2019

2018

2017

2016

older

Consumer rights

Jobs & Skills

Environment

Food, nutrition and health

Internal market

International trade

Logistics

Non-Food

Payment systems

SMEs

Social dialogue

Supply chain

Taxation

Filter by:

all

Consumer rights

Jobs & Skills

Environment

Food, nutrition and health

Internal market

International trade

Logistics

Non-Food

Payment systems

SMEs

Social dialogue

Supply chain

Taxation