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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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EuroCommerce elects Juan Manuel Morales as its new President

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.”

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Retailers ask for a safe, trustworthy digital environment for consumers

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.

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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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