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Director-General Verschueren to stand down in the autumn

After ten years at the helm, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren has informed the Board that he would be standing down from his post later this year after a successor has been appointed. The EuroCommerce Board will be starting the process of finding a new Director-General.

Christian Verschueren said: “I believe that, together with our members and our great team, we have made the voice for retail and wholesale better heard over the last decade. Ten years is a long time in today’s fast-paced environment, particularly our sector, and renewal is healthy for any organisation. And with EuroCommerce at the cusp of a new era and with a new three-year strategy about to be developed, I thought that it was a good time for me to step down. A new leader will bring new energy and fresh ideas, and write the next chapter for this great organisation. The retail and wholesale sector, not always sufficiently recognised for the service it provides to Europeans, deserves this.”

EuroCommerce President Régis Degelcke added: “Much as I regret his decision to stand down, I respect it. Christian has had a major impact on the cohesion and effectiveness of our organisation, and he has given our sector a stronger political standing in Brussels and Strasbourg. He is leaving EuroCommerce in good shape, and this will facilitate a smooth transition to the new leadership.”

Christian Verschueren has agreed to ensure a smooth transition and stays in his role until a new Director-General is established in his/her position, sometime in the second half of this year.

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Better regulation key to Europe’s competitiveness

Welcoming the long-awaited publication of the Commission communication on better regulation, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said today:

“It is some 6 years since Frans Timmermans launched the Commission’s new approach to better regulation, and we welcome Vice-President Šefčovič's updated communication on the subject.  Getting regulation right can be instrumental in creating new business opportunities and properly functioning markets. Getting it wrong can turn good ideas into legislation which does not deliver what it intended and possibly harms the people it aimed to help. That is why we believe that scrupulous and full consideration of the impact of legislation, not least on SMEs, and proper consultation of those likely to be affected by it, is essential to making regulation work as intended, and contributing to a competitive European economy.”

The Commission communication is an important step forward in making sure that legislation works as it should in underpinning important European policy objectives – not least in helping create a resilient, competitive EU economy which protects consumers and allows industry, not least the retail and wholesale ecosystem, to innovate and meet the significant challenges of digital and sustainability transformation, and thus provide rewarding employment to Europe’s citizens.

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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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