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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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Help SMEs digitalise, and help the European economy grow
16 Oct 2019 open-close-item
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Speaking at a joint Metro and EuroCommerce conference, Digitalisation of SMEs: How to make it possible, in Brussels today EuroCommerce, speaking on behalf of its Vice-President Patricia Hoogstraaten, called for a proactive European SME policy reflecting the major challenges arising from digitalisation and changes in consumer behaviour and their impact on small retailers and wholesalers, and said:

“Small retailers and wholesalers are often leaders in innovation and in adapting to fast-changing customer demand. But they struggle with gaining access to expertise and resources needed to take full advantage of the new technology. We very much support the call of the Network of the SME Envoys for a forward-looking EU SME policy and are pleased that Ursula von der Leyen announced a dedicated SME strategy as a priority for her Presidency of the European Commission. SMEs are vital to the EU economy as a whole, but vulnerable; they need regulatory action and financial support, tailored to their ways of operating, and targeted at enabling them to benefit fully from a vibrant European Digital Single Market.”

EU action to support SMEs will have a direct positive impact on the wider economy. SMEs in retail and wholesale account for 5.4 million businesses, or 1 in 4 of all businesses in the EU. 99 % of retail and wholesale businesses are SMEs and 90% micro-businesses, employing less than 10 people. The retail and wholesale sector currently employs 29 million Europeans, almost two-thirds of which work in SMEs.  Shops and wholesalers provide important employment for local people, and act as an anchor for communities, keeping both villages and town centres good places to live, visit and do business.

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce added:

“Small and medium-sized retailers and wholesalers are particularly affected by the many remaining barriers to a properly functioning Single Market. These barriers, in both digital and non-digital markets, are holding Europe back from using the Single Market as a springboard to compete with operators in Asia and the US. Our sector - and Europe as a whole - needs a strong commitment to the Single Market for services and goods, and regulation which promotes, rather than hinders growth. This in turn needs a recognition at the highest level of the key role SMEs play in the EU economy.”

-ENDS-

Contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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“We need to work with the unions for the future of retail and wholesale”
15 Oct 2019 open-close-item
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Speaking today at the annual UNI Europa Commerce sector Conference in Bucharest, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren underlined the importance of social partners working together to ensure that the 29 million Europeans working in retail and wholesale are equipped to have sustainable and rewarding jobs in this rapidly-changing commercial environment.

UNI Europa and EuroCommerce are the only European Social Partners for the retail and wholesale sector, and EuroCommerce is pleased with the positive collaboration with UNI Europa since the creation of the European Social Dialogue Committee for Commerce in 1998. Verschueren commented on the positive and fruitful relationship with UNI Europa, dating back as far as 1983, and the work done together over the years on a range of issues of importance to employers and employees in our sector.
Verschueren highlighted the seismic changes happening in retail and wholesale and specifically called on the unions to help prepare the employees for the future:  

“The sector faces major challenges, ranging from digitalisation of the economy to rapidly changing consumer demands and lifestyles, along with global sustainability and health imperatives. Ours is a sector directly dependent on consumers. I am confident that it can and will adapt rapidly to meet their needs and aspirations. And indeed companies will only survive if they do. As social partners, both of us agree that tailored working conditions, continuous learning, innovative in-company training are vital for upskilling employees so that they can handle new technologies and ways of working.  We have been working together to press for EU support under ESF+ to expand our existing efforts to meet these challenges. But most solutions need to happen at national and local level. These are all areas we need employers and unions working together on, but with the future in mind”.

Retail and wholesale is the largest private sector employer in each of the EU’s 28 Member States, and thus in the EU as a whole. We are proud of our record of investing in training, and seeing people starting on the shop floor gaining the skills to move into management. But retail of the future will be marked by adoption of data-driven technologies such as AI and blockchain. The sector will need people able to interact with new technologies, and to adapt along with rapid and constant changes in consumer expectations. We are moving with this evolution. For example, our German members and their social partners have evolved their dual learning education (the most successful dual learning programme in Germany), and developed a completely new digital job profile: the ‘e-commerce merchant’. This unprecedented example of innovative vocational education and training in our sector is preparing young people for the jobs of the future in retail. Technology is very important in this mix, but equally essential to the future of bricks-and-mortar retail will be making the most of the peoples’ expertise and social skills to offer top-quality customers advice and service.

Verschueren concluded: “Our sector can no longer be defined by bricks and mortar or pure online players – these distinctions are irrelevant where consumers can already choose any blend of the two. What will determine the future of physical stores will be investment in innovative new services - and in the soft skills and expertise of people working there - to make going to the shops an even more useful and enjoyable experience.”

-ENDS-

Contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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EuroCommerce calls for rapid global agreement on OECD digital tax proposals
10 Oct 2019 open-close-item
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Commenting on the presentation yesterday of the OECD Secretariat’s proposals on tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented: 

“We have been consistently supportive of the OECD’s efforts to reform and adjust the global taxation system to the challenges of the 21st century. The fiscal environment has significantly changed and today’s proposal is a major step towards a fairer and more modern tax system. This proposal is a valuable contribution to the discussions in the G20, and we ask governments to decide and act on them swiftly.”

EuroCommerce has always been a proponent of a global solution to deal with the changing commercial landscape and address an outdated regime and principles for corporate taxation.

Verschueren continued:

“The technological revolution and the digitalisation of the economy is a global phenomenon. It has resulted in major shifts in turnover and profits across geographies, without taxes being properly accounted for where consumption takes place. Hence, only a global consensus on a solution can adequately address the situation. The OECD is the right place to provide this solution and we commend it for having accelerated its work and delivering its proposals. A global solution at OECD and G20 level will prevent proliferation of different national tax regimes on digital services”.

To support the OECD work, EuroCommerce adopted last year a set of key principles[1] for taxing the digitalised economy. A core principle of the EuroCommerce position is that the taxation has to be channel-neutral: underlining that digitalisation offers opportunities to the entire economy, in particular to retail and wholesale, but that the tax burden needs to be shared a fair way among all market participants, no matter the business model or the size of the company.

---ENDS---



[1] 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. 

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Joint industry letter for reconsidering ePrivacy proposal
08 Oct 2019 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce and dozens of other industry organisations urge Member States to ask the European Commission to reconsider its proposal for an ePrivacy Regulation. We fully support the worthy objectives of the proposal, but only a fresh new attempt will serve the Regulation’s purpose in line with the principles of better regulation. We stand ready to support the Commission and the co-legislators in these efforts. 

Click here for the letter.

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Implementing Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) across Europe
25 Sep 2019 open-close-item
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  • 26 EEA NCAs are in favor of transition, including all large markets such as UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland.
  • 21 NCAs have confirmed in writing or through spokespersons their views in favor of a transition: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Norway, Finland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Slovenia, Lituania, Hungary (limited to 12-months) and Cyprus (for card data & SMS OTP only).
  • 2 NCAs have not yet expressed a position: Latvia and Bulgaria. In Iceland and Liechtenstein the RTS SCA requirements do not yet apply.
  • No NCA has expressed a view against a transition, except Sweden that will not provide a general transition. Transition for e-commerce card transactions will be granted on a case-by-case basis subject to individual notification.
  • There is a growing consensus on 18-month duration. Hungary confirmed 12 months.
  • 2 NCAs provide transition for contactless (Poland and Croatia). UK will not provide a general transition for contactless (only case-by-case for individual issuers and limited in time).
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EuroCommerce joins the Circular Plastics Alliance as retailers & wholesalers contribute to a more sustainable future
20 Sep 2019 open-close-item
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EuroCommerce today joined the Circular Plastics Alliance. Retailers and wholesalers have been playing an active role in increasing the sustainability of the products they sell. They work to influence and support sustainable consumption by reducing unnecessary use of virgin materials, optimising its logistics, and offering alternatives to plastic in products and their packaging. They also work to inform consumers about sustainable choices, and use the long-term partnerships with suppliers to encourage all parts of the supply chain to think and act sustainably.

EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented:

“EuroCommerce is delighted to join the Circular Plastics Alliance. This global initiative is an opportunity for our sector again to demonstrate - and build on - its long-standing commitment to sustainability. The Alliance reinforces the message which EuroCommerce members have already given through their engagement in wide-reaching national plastic pacts – that we are committed to do our part in making the supply chain contribute to a truly circular economy and a more sustainable future.”

In joining the Alliance, we will support our members in reducing plastics use, and in reinforcing dialogue with stakeholders in the supply chain and with regulators. Such a collaborative approach is vital to building the technical and regulatory framework to upscale circular business models. Equally central to creating the conditions for this to succeed is underpin industry efforts with efficient European systems of waste collection and sorting.

 -ENDS-

Contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Digital – a values-driven retail revolution
19 Sep 2019 open-close-item
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The retail and wholesale sector is the largest private employer, giving worthwhile jobs to 29 million Europeans, delivering vital services to business, and daily essentials to 500 million Europeans. Retailers and wholesalers are already embracing digital technology in all its different forms to provide services and goods that people want in the way - and when - they need them.

But this revolution brings with it major challenges: to prosper, companies need not only to react to, but anticipate, accelerating changes in technology and consumer demand. In the second of EuroCommerce’s digital lectures, Nabeela Ixtabalan, Digital Transformation Manager at Ingka Group, a strategic partner in the IKEA franchise system operating IKEA Retail in 30 countries. Ms Ixtabalan will present her company’s values-driven approach to the digitalisation of their business model, and its wider relevance for the future of retail and wholesale.

Nabeela Ixtabalan, Digital Transformation Manager at Ingka Group, the keynote speaker at the lecture commented:

“The world is changing, fast. Urbanisation, technology and digitalisation, as well as an increasing awareness of the impact of consumption on people and planet, are changing customer’s needs, expectations and reasons to shop. We believe this is a business opportunity. We are testing new IKEA formats, from city centre stores to furniture leasing offers. We are in a quest to provide a seamless omni-channel shopping experience to meet the many people in the digital and physical space. We are building a digital IKEA where trust is at the core of our personalised relationships with our customers, and where digitalisation embraces sustainability and diversity. We do our part but we count on policy makers to secure a truly competitive online and offline retail sector in the European Union.”

Christian Verschueren, EuroCommerce Director-General, added:

“If there is anything that the fierce competition in our sector can teach business as a whole, it is that you need to keep ahead of the game to stay in it. Digital technology makes that lesson even more urgent.  If Europe is to succeed in meeting major challenges in digital – not least from China and from the US – it needs to speed up its adoption of technology, and be able to develop the next generation of technology. As a new European Parliament is starting its work, and the new Commission prepares to take up office this autumn, EuroCommerce will continue to press policy-makers to act on crucial elements for our future success as a continent. Europe needs to address the massive deficit in people with the skills needed to operate in a digital world, help to give SMEs the resources they lack to go digital, help to equip our 29 million employees to deal with these changes. We also need a regulatory regime which guarantees that data and AI are managed ethically, while not holding Europe back in a global race to be a key player in this revolution.”

 -ENDS-

Contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Reducing labour shortages by improving skills matching - Employers statement
12 Sep 2019 open-close-item
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European employers are concerned about the growing skills mismatches and labour force shortages in a majority of Member States. If left unaddressed, this worrying trend will have a negative impact on innovation and productivity, both in highly innovative industry sectors and other services sectors, some of which are already confronted with the challenge of attracting motivated and competent workers.

To address this pressing issue, cross-industry and sectoral employers are issuing this statement to call on policy-makers and social partners at all appropriate levels to prioritise measures designed with the purpose to reduce labour shortages by improving skills matching across European Member States.

Labour force shortages and skills mismatches are caused by both cyclical and structural factors, both of which need to be addressed. Positively, the cycle of economic recovery over recent years has resulted in strong employment creation.

Around 13 million new jobs have been created since 2014, but many vacancies are left unfilled and many employers are facing difficulties finding the people with the skills they need. It can also be noted that the unemployment rate remains very high - about 10% and above in some Member States.

This recent trend has exacerbated the pre-existing structural labour market challenges caused by population ageing, and skills provision that is not sufficiently connected with labour market needs. Overall, skills mismatches are the major determinants of labour shortages. In particular, STEM skills – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – are increasingly required by employers across a broad range of sectors, to varying extents, and with digitalisation this will only intensify. Additionally, specialised professional skills are required by companies in a number of sectors that are facing a scarcity of qualified workers.

Digitalisation of the economy further stimulates these changes. Not only is there the emergence of new jobs that require new skills, but existing jobs are profoundly transformed, with some tasks disappearing and some new tasks being added. Additionally, a key challenge across sectors and different work levels is the lack of basic digital skills. Achieving a better link between skills training and innovation is also key to ensuring that European companies have the competitive advantage they need to attract customers and grow. Another important challenge is to foster increasing employment participation levels of women and to simultaneously achieve a more balanced representation of men and women across fields of education, occupations and sectors.

In this context, employers call on policy makers and social partners at EU and national levels to work together to improve the situation. This means focusing on the following priorities:

  • Reform education and training systems to increase their structural capacity to provide basic skills to the whole workforce and to cater for the growing needs for human / soft skills across the economy, as well as to facilitate the faster updating of curricula and qualifications in response to new and rapidly changing occupations. In addition, the introduction of new curricula based on digital job profiles, which have been successfully launched in some sectors, should be encouraged. These elements should form part of an overall approach to lifelong learning through various education and training pathways. Vocational Education and Training – VET, both initial (I-VET) and continuing (C-VET), has a prominent role to play in helping to reducing skills mismatches, in particular through setting up quality and effective apprenticeship policy frameworks across Europe. The specific situation and needs of SMEs should be taken into account.
  • Putting in place a new EU VET strategy for 2030 is an important priority for the next months, to which employers will continue to contribute. There is no time to waste to respond to the growing challenge of re-skilling and up-skilling the workforce. The reduction of the half-life of knowledge, driven by rapid technological change, requires more than ever that societies, employers and workers co-invest in lifelong learning - LLL - to improve and sustain our workforce’s employability. To make progress, EU Member States and social partners also need to improve the effectiveness of active labour market policies throughout Europe, including the need to encourage the cooperation between public and private employment services.
  • Strengthen cooperation between business, schools, vocational schools, professional colleges and universities. A key challenge in many countries is to introduce more vocational training elements into high school and university courses as well as a stronger focus on learning outcomes in higher education. It is also important to consider introducing a dual element at all levels of education. Each country should develop and promote Higher Vocational Education and Training pathways and do so in a way that makes sense in the context of its education and training system. Learning pathways in the EU should also become more permeable to make it easier for students to combine and/or move between different forms of education and training.
  • Foster the role of sectoral social dialogue to ensure a more relevant use of the available resources in the interest of employers and workers. Financial incentives and other forms of investment pooling can also play a positive role, particularly for SMEs, which struggle to find the resources and expertise needed to embrace digitalisation. Employers need to be better involved in the design and delivery of education and training curricula so as to better align them with the real needs of industry. Sectoral social partners can also play an important role in changing mindsets in society and campaign to promote the benefits of a “life-long-learning culture”, in the shared interest and responsibility of employers and workers.
  • Develop concrete initiatives to close the digital skills gap, such as by fostering the attainment of STEM skills at various levels of education, and through different education and training pathways. This includes the need to promote the importance of STEM skills in our societies, and their relevance for today’s economy, notably to attract more women in STEM.
  • Promote labour mobility across Europe and within the Member States: Freedom of movement of workers plays a positive role in addressing growing labour shortages. Mobility of workers, researchers and talent, in full respect of Directive 2005-36-EC on the recognition of professional qualifications, as revised by Directive 2013-55-EC, is crucial for the future of industry by ensuring a better match between people and job vacancies. This should be accompanied by measures to encourage circular mobility to maximise the benefits of mobility for countries of origin and destination.
  • Develop a renewed EU policy framework for third-country legal migration: Legal migration can play an important role to reduce the impact of labour shortages on businesses. Employers call on the European Commission and on Member States to renew the European policy framework for legal migration. In the current context, a broad-based approach to third-country economic migration is needed, across skills levels. To be supported, the EU’s future legal migration framework needs to respect national competences when it comes to the terms and volume of admission of the third country nationals - TCNs. The Commission should also consider ways in which a better understanding of third country qualifications could be achieved for Member States and employers, including, inter alia, in relation to the European Qualifications Framework - EQF.

Further initiatives at EU level

The European dimension can be helpful in supporting mutual learning between Member States and social partners. In particular, EU financial resources can play a positive role in supporting better skills and job training and matching, as well as to support education and training systems to adapt to digitalisation.

To add value, European policy initiatives need to be well-targeted and streamlined, avoiding the risk of inefficient, multiple, fragmented and uncoordinated tools and activities. This has been a weakness in the past, particularly in the fields of education and training.

In particular, we call on the European Commission and ESF managing authorities in the Member States to design European and national initiatives aimed at supporting investment in skills with social partners, at both cross-industry and sectoral levels. Involving social partners at an early stage will be crucial to avoiding resources being used in a way that fails to meet the real needs of employers and workers across Europe.

-ENDS-

Contact:

Neil McMillan - +32 2 737 05 99 - mcmillan@eurocommerce.eu   

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Joint industry letter on SCA implementation
03 Sep 2019 open-close-item
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Following our earlier joint statement on 1st August, we are highly supportive of the objectives of PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements to reduce fraud and increase consumer trust in electronic payments.

As we had previously stated, despite significant investment to build an infrastructure to comply with PSD2 SCA requirements, there are significant challenges remaining, including dependencies on many non-regulated parties, and all parties in the ecosystem will not be ready to comply with SCA requirements by 14 September 2019.

We welcome the EBA Opinion of 21st June 2019 that provides flexibility for National Competent Authorities (NCAs) to work with payment service providers (PSPs) on migration plans to provide additional time to allow issuers to migrate to authentication approaches that are compliant with SCA, and acquirers to migrate their merchants and gateways to solutions that support SCA.

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Creating a level-playing field for retail in Europe
30 Aug 2019 open-close-item
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In this paper, EuroCommerce calls for action at EU and national level to guarantee a level playing field for retailers operating in Europe. Stronger and more effective enforcement is needed to deal with rogue traders and remove them from the EU market. In parallel, Europe needs a much more thorough-going evaluation of existing EU rules that are no longer fit for the current digital age.

 

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Filter by:

all

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