EuroCommerce 25th Anniversary. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the European Single Market, but also the 25th anniversary of EuroCommerce, the principal European association representing retail and wholesale, the largest private sector employer in Europe, accounting for 10% of its GDP.
The EuroCommerce event is not just looking to celebrate retailers, wholesalers, but also the 500 million customers they serve every day, helping them to live a better, healthier and more convenient life.
EU Commissioners Elzbieta Bienkowska and Vera Jourová joined the conference to speak about digital transformation, changing consumer behaviour and how to make the Single Market work better for businesses and consumers.
Régis Degelcke, President of EuroCommerce, said on this occasion: “In 1992 we were told that the Single Market would be completed. 25 years later we still see significant barriers to trading across the EU. Some €1,000 trillion of goods are traded cross-border in Europe yearly: if we could remove these unjustified barriers we could release an untapped potential of between €183 billion and €269 billion. We see Europe still slow to recover slowly from the economic crisis 10 years ago, and still suffering from too high unemployment. Getting the Single Market working as it should, would create a massive boost to European growth and, most importantly, jobs.”
Elzbieta Bienkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “We need to realise the full potential of the retail sector, especially now that it is undergoing a rapid digital transformation. The best practices set out in our Retail Communication should help Member States carry out reforms to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the retail sector and provide for a level playing field between on-line and off-line retail. We will do a follow up on the Retail Communication through discussions with Member States, a further development and updates of the Retail Restrictiveness Indicator and a fact-finding on Territorial Supply Constraints.”
Retailers interact with consumers millions of times a day
A simple legal framework across Europe of consumer protection for both online and offline sales is important in building consumer trust. Retailers need a full harmonisation of consumer protection rules at a balanced and proportionate level as the only way to overcome legal fragmentation and obstacles to the free movement of goods.
Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, commented: “We want individuals and businesses to benefit from the growth in digital services. In the area of commerce, I see many positive opportunities for consumers in the future. However, this will work only if we cooperate – regulators, enforcers and organisations like EuroCommerce – to avoid misleading practices and breaches of consumer protection laws.”