The commerce sector is eager to make a success of the European digital single market, provided that the conditions for online cross border selling are improved. Only last week, the European Parliament presented a study suggesting that with the right policy measures the single digital market could already in the coming years create additional EU28 GDP growth of at least 2 per cent, or around 260 billion euros.
‘That would represent a welfare gain of more than 500 euros per European consumer per year’, comments Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce. ‘No wonder that the European retail and wholesale sector are keen to see those barriers removed quickly.’ Today and tomorrow, the European Consumer Summit will take stock of barriers which prevent consumers from accessing the full benefits of a European digital single market and what regulators need to do to ensure that consumers get the best possible deal that Europe can offer.
Currently, the possibilities to get the best European deal are rather limited for consumers. The commerce sector still struggles with too many barriers which block the free flow of goods and online services across national borders, in practice there are still 28 national online markets. Consumers are also considerably more likely to purchase online from national providers (41 per cent) than from those located in other EU countries (11 percent). To stimulate traders to sell more online across the border it is important to reduce legal uncertainty.
EuroCommerce therefore recommends assessing all legislation with relevance for commerce on whether it fits with the digital age and stimulates cross-border trade. Against this backdrop, it is particularly important to harmonize consumer rights rules and consumer information requirements, which still differ considerably between EU countries. A further push would provide cheaper and more competitive payments. The European Parliament and Council should therefore swiftly approve the Payment Services Directive II and the MIF Regulation to make cross border payments cheaper and more competitive.
Lastly, important work is needed on postal services, tax administration, skills, and infrastructure to boost online cross border selling.
EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries. Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP.
One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 99% of the 5.5 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies.
The sector is a major source of employment creation: 29 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.