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
Retailers ask for a safe, trustworthy digital environment for consumers21 Jun 2021
EuroCommerce has adopted a forward-looking and pragmatic position on the Digital Services Act (DSA), calling upon the EU institutions to ensure that the DSA creates a safe and trustworthy digital environment for consumers. At the same time, the DSA needs to strike the right balance: ensuring products online are compliant and safe, while not unnecessarily overburdening businesses. EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:
“The European retail and wholesale sector is in the middle of a digital transformation which is fundamentally changing retail and wholesale business models, a trend significantly accelerated by the COVID19 pandemic. An increasing number are, or plan to become, platforms themselves, increasing competition between the different online business models. While policy makers are still talking about online and offline sales, the most successful businesses are seamlessly integrating the online and offline environment into omnichannel, matching consumers expectations and preferences.”
One of the main challenges our sector is facing is the lack of a level playing field with third country traders. They often offer non-compliant products to EU consumers, offered for very low prices, making it difficult for European retailers and wholesalers to compete with them.
To remain competitive in a challenging environment, retailers and wholesalers need a framework that gives them legal certainty and incentives to grow and invest in robust omnichannel strategies.
Key recommendations from the position paper
- One framework for online services: EuroCommerce supports one horizontal framework for all online services targeted at EU based consumers.
- Liability: Consumers should always be able to exercise their rights, and in conjunction with other EU law, competent authorities should always be able to identify the economic operator in the EU that is responsible for EU product safety law and liable for consumer protection law.
- Know Your Business Customer: EuroCommerce supports the Know Your Business Customer principle, but more clarification is needed in Article 22.
- Transparency obligations: More transparency is welcome, but we need to ensure legal consistency, that the burden is manageable, that business secrets are respected, and this will really contribute to compliance and trust.
- Notice & Action: EuroCommerce supports a strongly harmonised notice & action system across the EU. This will make it easier for cross-border operators.
- Number of active users: The calculating methodology should be part of the DSA and aligned with the DMA.
- Enforcement: EuroCommerce supports efficient and effective enforcement, including the introduction of a legal representative and the country of origin, but is concerned about the high turnover-based fines and the proportionality of the Commission’s enforcement powers.
- Codes of Conduct: It should be clear that codes of conduct are voluntary instruments.
- Application date: Online marketplaces need at least 12 months to implement all the new DSA requirements.
EuroCommerce elects Juan Manuel Morales as its new President15 Jun 2021
EuroCommerce is pleased to announce the election at its General Assembly today of Juan Manuel Morales as its new President. Mr. Morales will take up his three-year mandate from 1 July 2021.
Mr. Morales commented upon his election:
“I will want to focus on guiding an important organisation representing the Europe’s largest private sector employer, a driver of growth for a wide range of other ecosystems, and a linchpin of local communities. We are under massive competitive and regulatory pressure in a low margin sector, which is often overlooked by policymakers. This is something we must, and will work to change. I am proud therefore, and deeply honoured, to have been elected to continue and take forward the valuable work undertaken by EuroCommerce members and staff, and, above all, by my excellent predecessor Régis Degelcke, to whom I extend my heartfelt thanks”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for everyone in retail and wholesale, particularly in non-food. The very existence of thousands of SMEs, who represent 99% of our sector, is at risk. In addition, retail and wholesale face the dual challenge of the digital and green transformation, both of which require significant investment.”
In handing over the baton as President, Régis Degelcke added:
“I believe EuroCommerce has built up further its reputation as a strong organisation representing an essential ecosystem for the European economy and a provider of a vital service every day to the people who really matter – Europe’s 450 million consumers. It has worked hard to underline how our sector has faced the challenges of the last 18 months, and to get across important messages about its needs, both financial and policy. All of us are looking forward to working under Juan Manuel’s leadership, whose ambition for, and commitment to the industry will help EuroCommerce reach even greater heights.”
Juan Manuel Morales is managing director of IFA, a leading retail group in Southern Europe, with more than 130,000 employees and 11,000 stores operated by its affiliates across Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Morales’ whole career has been with the consumer goods industry, spanning 30 years within both retail and food and drink manufacturers in Spain, Portugal, Poland and the Baltics: before joining IFA in 2011, he held commercial, general management, and president positions in Grupo Osborne, The Coca-Cola company, and Nielsen.
Juan Manuel is also Vice-President of our member association ASEDAS, member of the executive committee of the Spanish business and employers’ federation CEOE, and board member of AECOC, the Spanish GS1 association.
He has a degree in Economics and Business from the Complutense University of Madrid and an Executive MBA from the IESE Business School. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English and Italian. Juan Manuel is married, has two children, and is passionate about football and golf.
JOINT STATEMENT: EU-U.S. Summit: A critical milestone for the global agenda11 Jun 2021
For the last century, the transatlantic partnership has been the backbone of the global economy. Consumers and producers, workers and companies, citizens and their governments across the Atlantic and beyond have benefitted from the deep integrative forces that bind the United States and Europe together. By itself, the economic relationship creates 16 million jobs, generates half of total global consumption and accounts for one third of global GDP.
However, the previously undisputed leadership of the U.S. and Europe in the international system has become more precarious in recent times, as the tectonic plates of the geopolitical landscape shift. Furthermore, a once-in-a-generation global pandemic, an economic recession and a climate emergency have added to the challenges facing Transatlantic leadership.
In this context, the EU-U.S. Summit taking place on 15 June in Brussels is a critical milestone. Since the Biden Administration took office, we have seen an encouraging new momentum in the transatlantic relationship. The Summit represents an opportunity for these strategic partners to map out a positive, proactive agenda that builds on these encouraging early signs. By identifying substantive areas for cooperation, the EU and the U.S. can ensure that the transatlantic relationship continues to rhyme with prosperity, stability, welfare and leadership.
As a business community, we call for the EU and the U.S. to use the Summit to instigate a three-pronged agenda, focused on reducing barriers to trade; ensuring both sides of the Atlantic come out of the pandemic with stronger, more resilient economies; and seeking new areas for convergence and leadership as we transition towards a greener, digitalised international economy.
1. Reducing barriers to trade:
- The business community wants to see both sides build on the positive early steps taken to resolve ongoing tariff disputes, by working together to overcome the root issues at the WTO.
- We also call on the two sides to work to remove trade barriers by progressively pursuing by-sector agreements to reduce tariffs, as well as developing deeper regulatory cooperation.
2. Ensuring economic recovery:
- As we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that both sides fully utilise the fiscal and monetary firepower at their disposal to foster a balanced economic recovery that addresses existing structural flaws within their markets. ‘Building back better’ must be about bolstering the resilience of markets, businesses and workers to deal with future economic shocks. High ambition must be the goal on both sides of the Atlantic.
- Travel between the U.S. and the EU must be reinstated at the earliest possible opportunity. Many industries rely on movement of people across the Atlantic – the longevity of these industries and the businesses and workers therein is at risk if the lifting of travel restrictions is delayed.
3. Converging on a greener, digital future:
- Emerging issues such as the climate emergency and the digital transformation will be fundamental to the future path of humanity. We need transatlantic leadership on these issues to ensure that the values that both sides espouse are deeply embedded in the economic model of tomorrow.
- The business community wants to see the EU’s proposal for a Trade and Technology Council be taken up, as a forum to advance regulatory cooperation and mutual recognition of standards, and to avoid potential future disputes between the two sides.
The U.S. and the EU stand at an important juncture in their history. The decisions made by these strategic allies now will have a lasting impact on the future. The upcoming Summit is an opportunity to lay the foundations for the strengthened international cooperation necessary to tackle the societal challenges of our time. The next steps towards ending the pandemic, fostering economic recovery and accelerating the green and digital transitions must now be taken in Brussels, on 15 June.
Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovkis speaks on trade and recovery11 Jun 2021
At the latest of its series of Policy Talks today, EuroCommerce Director-General said:
“We are delighted that Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis has agreed to speak to us about a number of issues under his wide portfolio, including the EU’s approach to international trade following the Commission’s recent trade policy review, and how this can support Europe’s economic recovery and the EU industrial strategy. Our sector relies on complex, global supply chains to give consumers a wide choice of quality products at competitive prices. We are also directly dependent on, and can be a driver of economic growth and consumer confidence. With many retailers and wholesalers, and particularly SMEs hit hard by COVID crisis, we have a real interest in Europe rapidly getting back on its feet”.
In his speech and in responding to questions submitted by the audience, he will be covering, among other issues:
- How trade policy and the review of the Industrial Strategy fit together and the concept of Open Strategic Autonomy;
- The role of trade in driving growth and how it will contribute to EU recovery along with the EU recovery programme;
- The role of SMEs as drivers of innovation and growth in the EU economy and the EU SME strategy, including how SMEs benefit most from removal of trade barriers and regulatory burdens.
A link to the live event is available here.
European Parliament competition report right to call for action to protect consumers10 Jun 2021
Commenting on the European Parliament’s adoption yesterday of the report by MEP Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, BE) on the Commission 2020 Competition Report, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented:
“The European Parliament has highlighted the increasing concentration in industry leading to higher profits at the expense of European consumers. We can add that, as the IMCO committee said, suppliers are hampering the development of the single market and its potential benefits to consumers by imposing territorial supply constraints on retailers. We call upon the Commission to act on this and strongly support the Commission, as it has done in investigating Mondelez and Coca-Cola, in enforcing competition rules, in protecting consumers and the single market”.
At a time when Europe is looking to drive growth and recovery after COVID, the importance of the single market and robust competition will be key to the European economy. In this context it is very welcome that the report:
- supports robust EU competition and a level playing field to drive innovation, create consumer benefits and support the single market;
- expresses concerns in relation to industry concentration in Europe and the scope this allows for industry to push up prices and profits;
The IMCO committee of the EP in its contribution to the report points to “the anti-competitive effect of persistent territorial supply constraints (TSCs) which can materialise through different practices such as refusing to supply or threatening to stop supplying a particular distributor, limiting the quantities available for sale, inexplicable differences in product ranges and prices between Member States, or limiting language options for product packaging”, and calls on the Commission “to address the anti-competitive effect of TSCs with a view to achieving a fully functioning single market”.
Nearly 30 years after the completion of the single market, there is still no single market for sourcing branded goods in the EU. A recent Commission1 study highlighted that these cost European consumers at least €14bn a year in what they pay for the groceries they buy every day.
In this context, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) issued a report2 in 2020 on retail alliances which concluded that these help retailers mitigate the strong market power of large brand suppliers and the impact of market fragmentation that they impose; the report further noted there was no direct impact on farmers. In addition, the JRC report showed that retail alliances can help competition by generating efficiencies, which lead to better consumer prices. The Commission is currently assessing the horizontal rules covering joint purchasing alliances, and we will continue to ask for these rules to maintain a balanced and flexible framework allowing retailers to seek to mitigate in some part the significant market power of large brand manufacturers.
Green vaccination certificates - Position paper09 Jun 2021
The Commission announced in March plans for an EU-wide green certificate system to allow people to travel again more freely if:
- they have been vaccinated,
- recently tested negative or
- can prove that they have had COVID and still retain sufficient antibodies.
The Commission will create a gateway to allow Member States to check the validity of certificates issued in another member state. It will not guarantee an EU-wide set of freedoms beyond travel, and member states which public health restrictions can be waived for travellers, nor affect national or local decisions on what access a vaccinated person will have to public spaces. But anyone with a valid certificate will have to be treated in the same way.
The Parliament and Council political agreement on 20 May, which will shortly be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. The Regulation will enter into force on 1 July, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time. In parallel, the Commission will continue to provide technical and financial support to Member States to provide their citizens with access to the gateway.
The tourism industry, and countries, regions and towns which rely on tourism for a significant proportion of their revenue, are understandably anxious to have the increasing roll-out of vaccinations to be reflected by relaxation of rules governing tourism and business travel. Our sector was badly affected by piecemeal and rushed closures of borders even to freight movements at the start of the pandemic, and would be again if such restrictions were reimposed in the event of a resurgence of the disease. Non-food retailers and wholesalers serving the hospitality sector have suffered catastrophic losses of turnover due to repeated lockdowns and even where open, a drop in footfall.
A number of member states have been discussing national vaccination certification schemes with varying ideas of the use to which they could be put – most have seen a certificate as a means of allowing those vaccinated to travel and attend venues such as sports events, concerts, theatre which have hitherto been closed. Others have considered extending this further to allow those vaccinated to visit shops, hairdressers and other services hitherto closed, but perhaps also making visits to all shops, even essential ones, conditional on a certificate of this sort. The EU regulation will, as mentioned above, not change the ability of member states to decide how to manage such conditional waivers.
We have consistently said that we fully support health measures to stop the disastrous spread of the virus and its increasing number of variants, but also questioned whether the distinction between ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ shops has ever made sense – if one category can ensure a good level of safety, so can another. We have therefore adopted the following position on how the measures should be implemented:
- Support for an EU green certificate, rather than a patchwork of mutually incompatible national schemes.
- Support for them being used to allow a reopening of travel, both for tourism and business purposes, and for mass events such as sports or theatre/concerts etc. Also could be useful for cross-border deliveries of goods where drivers are required to have proof of a negative test or take a new test.
- Its introduction should aim to reduce, rather than create new restrictions on top of, those in place at present.
- Entry to shops and shopping centres should therefore not be conditional on possession of a certificate. Care should be taken not to create discrimination or a breach of basic rights.
- The system underpinning the certificates needs to be robust against fraud and time limited: if most people have been vaccinated, it is questionable whether the certificate would continue to be necessary.
Sustainable Product Initiative Consultation - Accompanying document09 Jun 2021
Retail & wholesale understand the necessity to keep the use and the consumption of resources within our planet’s limits. Retailers and wholesalers share the goals of the Green Deal and welcome the review of the Eco-design Directive as a key initiative to implement the Circular Economy Action Plan. It will contribute in providing the necessary policy instruments to address the overall challenge to make products more sustainable.
We would like to complement our answer to the public consultation on the sustainable product initiative with the following position paper.
World Food Safety Day: EU Agri-food chain’s commitment to safe food now for a healthy tomorrow07 Jun 2021
World Food Safety Day aims at drawing attention and inspiring action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. To mark the third World Safety Day today, CELCAA, Copa-Cogeca, EuroCommerce, FEFAC and FoodDrinkEurope want to reiterate their strong commitment to delivering safe food to consumers in Europe as well as globally. Food is vital to all our lives, and safe food is the best guarantee of a healthy tomorrow for everyone.
There is no food security without food safety. Food safety is a responsibility carried by all partners in the food supply chain, from farm to fork, for the benefit of, particularly, consumers. Equally, safe feed is a prerequisite of safe food of animal origin, and an integral component of global food safety systems.
We are all working towards more sustainable food production and consumption, by for example reducing food waste and rolling out more sustainable packaging to support a more circular economy. But in pursuing these important objectives, all involved, whether public or private sector, must work to balance these various requirements to ensure that food safety is not compromised. For their part, agri-food chain partners remain fully committed, in an ever-changing society making new demands on business, to consistent, day-in-day-out efforts to keep food safe. This remains their number one priority.
Today’s food in the EU is safer, of higher-quality, and has a longer shelf-life than ever before. Investing in food safety has immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet and the economy.
The Food Safety Platform members (BEUC, CELCAA, Copa-Cogeca, EuroCommerce, FEFAC and FoodDrinkEurope) have also developed an infographic brochure showcasing their joint responsibility in delivering safe food from farm to fork, which can be downloaded here.
Implementation of Unfair Trading Practices Directive and impact07 Jun 2021
The Unfair Trading Practices Directive aims at supporting farmers and small agri-food suppliers by regulating a number of practices when dealing with a larger buyer and requiring Member States to appoint a national authority overseeing enforcement. The deadline for the transposition of the directive (including the designation of the relevant enforcement authorities in each member states) was 1 May 2021. The Commission will present an interim report on the state of the transposition by 1 November 2021. EuroCommerce notes that, despite some delays, member states are progressing with the transposition of the Unfair Trading Practices Directive.
As a minimum harmonization directive, Member States are able to introduce or maintain existing provisions that go beyond the protection granted in the directive. Feedback from the national transposition process shows that the vast majority of member states have sought to broaden the provisions of the directive by extending the scope and the list of practices, meaning that the directive will fail to provide the common standard it sought to establish. We are concerned with the disproportionate and unnecessarily restrictive approach adopted in some member states and would ask the Commission to closely monitor the impact on the market, in particular with regard to farmers and smaller agri-food suppliers.
We invite the Commission to ensure that member states notify all national measures transposing the UTP Directive, including technical national requirements which need to be notified under other instruments such as TRIS, the Service Directive or any other piece of EU legislation having such an obligation.
- member states are progressing with the implementation of the directive with various degrees of goldplating; we believe that diverging provisions on scope and interpretation fail to ensure a level playing field at EU level;
- goldplating by member states and the diverging scopes also fragment the single market; some provisions e.g. on local sourcing are infringements of the single market rules and should not be allowed;
- several of the proposed national rules implementing the directive negatively affect the principle of freedom of contract, which ensures that retailers are able to deliver consumers with a wide choice of products at a competitive price;
- some national governments have introduced provisions that are discriminatory, disproportionate, protectionist and unnecessarily restrictive.
- EuroCommerce believes that cooperation among food chain operators is more useful than legislation and bureaucracy for the development the agri-food sector to give consumers the products they want and support farmers’ sustainability.
Wholesale Day 2021 – lifting the veil on a vital part of the economy03 Jun 2021
EuroCommerce is today holding its #WholesaleDay21 with a line-up of high-level speakers, including senior executives and entrepreneurs. They will be engaging with European Commission representatives and the audience on the contribution of wholesalers to the EU economy, the key challenges they face in a changing environment, how they address them and what support they need. Opening the event, EuroCommerce President Régis Degelcke said:
“The title of our event today tells its own story – lifting the veil which often hides from public view the vital role that wholesalers play in making our economy work. Today’s complex supply chains are like any machine we use every day – we don’t look at every component in the machine: we just expect it to work. It is the same with wholesalers. Because they work with a wide range of industrial and professional customers, we, the final customer, do not see what they do to make the supply chain work for us. From the speakers today, we will be hearing a lot more about what the immensely diverse wholesale sector does for almost all parts of Europe’s and the world’s economy, and how they are meeting the challenges of the digital and sustainability transition.”
Philippe Delpech CEO of Sonepar, the world’s no 1 wholesaler of electrical goods, summed up his vision in the keynote speech:
“Wholesale is a key industry that is undergoing a major digital transformation with an ever-increasing need for sustainable solutions. I am delighted to be speaking at this year’s Wholesale Day and sharing Sonepar’s ambitious transformation agenda to become the first global B-to-B electrical distributor to provide a fully digitalized and synchronised omnichannel experience to all customers. Through a dense network of 100 brands spanning 40 countries, Sonepar makes its customers’ lives easier, over the counter, visiting customers, by phone or online, – wherever and however we’re needed.”
There are 1.8 million wholesale companies across the EU, working closely with upstream and downstream industries in a varied and diverse range of ecosystems. In doing so, they simplify and reduce the number of interfaces between producers and professional customers, and provide a complete range of products, accompanied by expert services and value added to allow their customers to focus on running their business successfully. 91% of wholesalers are micro businesses with less than 10 employees, and most others, SMEs. They employ 10.6 million Europeans and produce €660 billion value added.
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the need to adapt their business and their workers for the digital and green transformation, and they need support to make the investments to achieve this. Wholesalers supplying the Horeca sector were hit hard by the closure of hotels, restaurants and canteens, and a majority of other wholesalers are seeing orders from customers falling or being cancelled because of the crisis. Those dependent on global supply chains have also been badly affected by the severe disruption and spiralling cost of international shipping and containers.
See the full programme and list of speakers here.