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Retail and wholesale transforming fast to serve consumers’ changing needs

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.
These were

  • 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.

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EU-Vietnam deal: a long time coming, but still good news for consumers

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.

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Retail and wholesale see EU Digital Strategy as a positive step towards European competitiveness

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.”

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“This time I’m voting” - EuroCommerce supports campaign to mobilise citizens to vote in European elections

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.”

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EuroCommerce at World Retail Congress: 'Engage with politicians and keep asking for open markets'

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."

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