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.
- Press releases
- Position papers
- Issue briefings
- Publications & reports
- Knowledge hub − Brexit
- Knowledge hub −Economics
- Supplier Engagement
Retail and wholesale see EU Digital Strategy as a positive step towards European competitiveness20 Feb 2020
EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren, speaking on the launch of the European Digital Strategy by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton, underlined the many positive elements in the Commission communication:
“Our sector has been using digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to make sure that consumers have the products they want at the right time while making their operations more efficient and offering better services. It is welcome that the Commission proposes an approach which both builds up consumer trust and also promotes the development and application of new technologies. It is also beneficial that their white paper on AI looks to a differentiated approach to rules on the application of AI depending on the degree of risk involved. It is clear that an AI system predicting what goods to order according to the weather holds fewer risks for citizens than an application process for personal medical data.”
Equally, if our sector is to be able to compete with global players from outside Europe, it is essential, as the strategy indicates, that the right balance is struck between building citizens’ trust and avoiding unnecessary barriers to developing and applying new technologies in Europe. In this respect, data-sharing will be important, as will the need, where appropriate, to be able to retain information relevant to the commercial needs of the company in question.
Our sector is made up principally of small companies – some 99% are SMEs, most of them having less than 10 employees. They are in town centres and rural areas, and often lack access to the skills and support needed to go online. Many European towns are seeing shopping streets with empty shop, leading to a circle of decline; when a village loses its shop, it loses an anchor for the whole community. Supporting these shops going digital and staying relevant can make the difference between such shops keeping open and disappearing forever.
EU-Vietnam deal: a long time coming, but still good news for consumers12 Feb 2020
EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented today on the approval by the European Parliament of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“We have been pushing for a free trade agreement with Vietnam for many years, and are delighted at the European Parliament’s decision to approve the deal. With its liberalisation of tariffs and deepening of business links the agreement offers real opportunities for European businesses – granting exporters access to a strong emerging market of close to 100 million people, and offers EU importers and consumers new opportunities in a sustainable and responsible source of quality products. With the commitments made by Vietnam, the agreement will also reinforce the improvements already made to conditions for Vietnamese workers.”
The EU-Vietnam FTA will eliminate over 99% of the tariffs at present in force. Vietnam will liberalise 65% of import duties on EU exports to Vietnam at entry into force of the agreement, with the remainder of duties on, for example, dairy products and wines and spirits, being eliminated over a 5-10-year period. EU duties will be eliminated over the next 7 years.
Provisions on e-commerce will facilitate online trade, and Vietnam has committed to substantially improve access for EU companies to a broad range of service sectors.
The agreement also contains a strong chapter on trade and sustainability which guarantees environmental and human rights standards, with clear powers of enforcement. The Vietnamese government has committed to address earlier European concerns about workers’ rights in the country. They have undertaken to ratify and implement three core ILO conventions: one has already been transposed into Vietnamese law, and the others will be implemented shortly, significantly improving the situation of all workers in Vietnam. While the agreement covering goods only needs the agreement of Council and European Parliament, the investment provisions in it will require ratification by national parliaments.
“This is the most ambitious EU agreement ever signed with a developing country. Its benefits are significant, and I am pleased we have got there now. But it is perhaps worth remembering that the negotiations were concluded in December 2015. I sincerely hope that in this, and other pending agreements important to European business, the institutions and member states can speed up ratification so that the benefits for both sides are not withheld for too long.”
Contribution to the Commission Evaluation of the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations and Guidelines11 Feb 2020
The Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations (HBER) and the Horizontal Guidelines (Guidelines or HGL) work well and provide an overall balanced framework for horizontal cooperation. The European Commission’s current evaluation is an opportunity to update this framework and provide further legal certainty, especially by reflecting more recent market developments such as digitalisation, globalisation and sustainability.
Digital has brought about huge transformational changes in supply chains, increasing transparency and competitive pressure. Retailers and wholesalers are now facing competition from global eco-systems established outside the EU. Manufacturers increasingly address consumers direct on-line and thus are becoming direct competitors. Digital has also expanded the selling market for a number of products which are offered in stores and on-line. Retailers and wholesalers are facing suppliers that are increasingly consolidated, hold significant profits and market shares by selling unique brands and in many cases fragment the single market. We ask the Commission to take these factors into account when conducting their competition assessments.
We wish to make the following main points, which we will detail further below:
1. Purchasing alliances lead to lower prices for customers, they create efficiencies and contribute to creating a single market for sourcing. The Guidelines provide the needed flexibility and legal certainty for these alliances to operate both effectively and compliantly.
2. To further improve the Guidelines, we ask that the Commission considers increasing the safe harbour threshold for the relevant buying market to 30%. Furthermore, the possibility of voluntary ex-ante consultations with the EU Commission and/or the national competition authorities should be introduced in order to increase legal certainty.
3. In light of the further digitalisation of commerce, we recommend adapting the Guidelines in relation to information exchange. Specifically, the Guidelines should provide more clarification on signaling and help better assess data and information exchange between competitors, particularly regarding agency agreements as well as hubs-and-spoke situations.
4. The Guidelines should provide more guidance on sustainability cooperation, especially on how to consider future benefits and future burdens in the competitive assessment. This would help retailers and wholesalers make required investments in sustainability projects.
Retail and wholesale transforming fast to serve consumers’ changing needs07 Feb 2020
Speaking today in Athens at the Future of Retail conference attended by 700 Greek retailers and organised by the Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, ESEE, a leading member of EuroCommerce, Director-General Christian Verschueren identified the key trends set to shape European Retail now and in the future.
- The Digital Transformation and changing face of retail and wholesale
- A “difficult Europe”, marked by slow economic recovery and growing protectionism in and outside Europe
- Global imperatives on healthy living, sustainability and shifts in jobs and skills.
Verschueren underlined the need for retail and wholesale to adapt and respond quickly to these trends:
“Retail and wholesale have a history of changing rapidly to meet new demands from their customers and adopting new technology. Consumers are looking to buy healthy, sustainable products, and expecting to have them delivered where and when they want them. The circular economy is changing the way people consume, and particularly young consumers are choosing to own less and access products which meet their expectations and wishes to live sustainably and buy ethically. And they want the information necessary to make such choices. Our sector needs to transform itself - and be ready to transform itself constantly - if it wants to stay relevant to what consumers expect.”
The new Commission in Brussels is hitting the ground running with an ambitious agenda for the coming years focused on a clear and deep commitment to reducing humans’ impact on the planet under the Green Deal, making Europe globally competitive in digital technology while protecting European citizens’ interests and values. EuroCommerce and its members, including ESEE are working hard to support this agenda and ensure that it addresses the most important factor in all of these policies – Europe’s 500 million people, who are both consumers and citizens.
Joint paper on the interpretation of price reduction rules under the Omnibus Directive03 Feb 2020
The undersigned EU trade associations have closely followed and proactively engaged in the legislative process that led to the adoption of the Directive (EU) 2019/2161 on better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules (so-called “Omnibus Directive”).
In particular, this paper addresses a new provision covering the announcement of price reductions1, which was included in the Omnibus Directive only at a very late stage of the trilogue negotiations, thus without detailed discussion in Council or Parliament, no impact assessment and no recitals to explain the thinking behind the amendment. We are, therefore, seriously concerned that in its present wording, its text can be open to various interpretations when implemented by Member States, with potential farreaching negative consequences for both online and offline traders if not transposed and interpreted appropriately.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the Commission ensures a balanced, clear and harmonised transposition of this provision into the Member States’ national systems, to avoid further fragmentation of the Single Market and the creation of new barriers for cross-border commerce in the Union, if Member States decide to go beyond the minimum level of harmonisation of the law.
The purpose of this paper is to support the work of the European Commission ahead of the transposition workshops that will be organised at the beginning of 2020 and inform Member States about the potential risks for traders if the text is not transposed in a clear and balanced way. We thus call for the adoption of transposition guidelines that clarify the interpretation that needs to be given to Art. 6a as well as its precise scope.
Sustainable Food Strategy - Retail & wholesale contribution - Letter to Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety29 Jan 2020
EuroComerce welcomes the ambition and comprehensive strategy set out by the Commission in December in the European Green Deal. In this letter to Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, EuroCommerce shared some initial thoughts on the Farm-to-Fork sustainable food strategy under the Green Deal.
OECD negotiators must now agree on how to modernise international taxation28 Jan 2020
Ahead of the talks in the OECD this week in Paris, EuroCommerce Director General Christian Verschueren pressed negotiators to make concrete progress on modernising international taxation systems:
“Retailers and wholesalers, both online and offline, support the OECD discussions on modernising corporate tax systems and make them appropriate to the digitalised global economy. It is essential that negotiators now find common ground on taking forward the negotiations to find a multinational solution and avoid a growing trend towards fragmented national approaches.”
EuroCommerce last year adopted a set of key principles for taxation of the digitalised economy. Central to this is that the taxation has to be channel-neutral – suitable for both online and offline sales. Digitalisation offers opportunities to the entire economy, in particular to retail and wholesale, but the principles stress that the tax burden must be shared fairly among all market participants, no matter the business model or the size of the company.
“We know that finding a consensus is not easy, but the alternatives are worse, and provide no response to the challenges ahead. We were pleased to see the United States and France finding an interim agreement last week in Davos, but businesses across Europe and the world are impatient to see the OECD reach a consensus, and very soon”
 The key principles on taxation of the digitalised economy agreed by EuroCommerce members were: 1) The system needs to be fair; 2) taxation should continue to be based on profits rather than on turnover; 3) taxation needs to be channel-neutral; 4) rules need to be simply applicable by companies, and ensure that the administrative burden is in proportion to the generated revenue; 5) the new rules need to be enforceable on companies which are based outside the EU; 6) there needs to be a global solution at OECD and G20 level.
Contribution to Circular Economy Action Plan Roadmap20 Jan 2020
The new European Commission sets ambitious targets and timeline to reach a climate-neutral and circular economy. The retail and wholesale sector recognises the lead that the EU takes to respond to increasing environmental challenges in terms of resources scarcity, access to materials, human rights and resources efficiency.
The release of the Green Deal is an opportunity to reiterate our commitments for a greener economy. This document aims to present our expertise to drive the shift to a more circular and green economy.
Circular Economy is an opportunity for retail and wholesale as it allows our sector to rethink business models, offer alternative products and support and nudge a more sustainable lifestyle. It is a two-way approach both responding and leading to societal change. Indeed, beyond the increasing demand by consumers and regulators to offer more sustainable alternatives, the Circular Economy is an opportunity to rethink the way we produce, manufacture, sell, use and discard our products.
Hence, the initiatives led by European retailers and wholesalers encompass a large variety of initiatives beyond the most visible reduction of (plastic) packaging.
This briefing aims to address key measures to help our sector to deploy circular business at its full scale and support the Commission’s work in developing its 2020 New Circular Economy Action Plan.
The EU-Vietnam FTA - Joint Letter from 14 business associations20 Jan 2020
The EU-Vietnam FTA
Chances for European and Vietnamese business, consumers and workers
Growing better together
The undersigned business associations respectfully request Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to consider the benefits for both sides and to approve the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.
We note that the negotiations on the EU-Vietnam FTA concluded in December 2015, and both European and Vietnamese businesses and consumers have been waiting since then for its ratification and entry into force.
The trade agreement, with its liberalisation of tariffs and deepening of business links, represents a great opportunity for European businesses – granting access to a strong emerging market of close to 100 million people. It also opens the door to partnership, dialogue and cooperation with Vietnam creating stronger ties with the South-East-Asian region and will raise standards for consumers and workers alike. The agreement contains a strong chapter on trade and sustainability, to which the Commission and Vietnam have made a strong commitment to ensure close compliance. Furthermore, the Vietnamese government has made an equally strong commitment to address earlier concerns about workers’ rights and ratify and implement three core ILO conventions. One of these has already been transposed into Vietnamese law, and the Vietnamese government will implement the others shortly, significantly improving the situation of workers in Vietnam.
The EU-Vietnam Business coalition firmly supports the approval of the EU-Vietnam Agreement, and we ask for your support of ratification of this Free Trade Agreement in the INTA committee on Tuesday, 21 January.
EU - Vietnam FTA - Joint call for a swift ratification20 Jan 2020
EuroCommerce is one of the 14 European business associations calling for a swift ratification of the EU - Vietnam free trade agreement.
The free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Vietnam, concluded in 2015, is the most ambitious trade deal ever negotiated between the EU and a developing country. The FTA will eliminate over 99% of all tariffs, and partly remove the rest through limited zero-duty quotas, known as Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). Tariffs on EU exports to Vietnam will be gradually removed over a 10-year period. EU duties on imports from Vietnam will be eliminated progressively over a 7-year period.
More information in the EVFTA Business Coalition joint-brochure