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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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European Retail Day – a sector meeting the challenges of digital and sustainability transformation

The second European Retail Day, a joint initiative of EuroCommerce, Euro Coop, the European Retail Round Table and Independent Retail Europe, which is being held in Brussels today, heard from a range of leading retail representatives, policymakers and civil society about priorities for policy and other initiatives in these early months of the new European Commission and Parliament.

The conference focused on digitalisation and sustainability two central themes for the retail sector in Europe. These also make up two major parts of the Commission’s plans for the EU legislative programme over the next 5 years. The conference debated how EU and national policymakers should pursue these objectives, the impact on a rapidly-changing the retail sector and what this will mean for consumers and their purchasing decisions.

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Coronavirus - Statement

The following statement was issued today on behalf of the European retail and wholesale sector by Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce:

First, I want to pay tribute to the 29 million people working in our sector, who have been working extra hours and giving up holidays to make sure that customers receive the service they need in these exceptional times. Retailers and wholesalers have been working with all parts of the supply chain to ensure that there are adequate supplies of the things European citizens need every day. 

Second, coming into contact daily with millions of customers, we have taken a wide range of steps to support public authorities in seeking to minimise the risk of infection to customers and to our own staff.  We are cooperating with and supporting all public authorities – at European, national and local level, in the measures they are taking to limit the spread of the virus. We are calling on our social partners to cooperate with us in protecting our employees.

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