Commission hopes to strengthen competitiveness of EU retail sector

EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Shoppers on the Rue Neuve, the main shopping street, in Brussels, January 3, 2018

Commission hopes to strengthen competitiveness of EU retail sector


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With one on ten people working in over 3.6 million companies, the retail sector remains one of the biggest pillars of the EU economy and continues to grow due to the rapid inroads that e-commerce is making on the market.

The European Union is looking for ways to help the Member States overcome the current challenges by addressing a number of restrictions in the retail sector.

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen identified the best practices discussed by the EU executive which will guide the Member States’ efforts in “increasing the innovation, productivity, and competitiveness of our retail sector” and therefore allow EU retailers to strengthen their global presence while SMEs often at a family business level will be assisted to pass across to the technological era.

The European Commission has identified three main areas where the bloc’s member states can make further progress. Facilitating retail establishment can make a difference in terms of accessing the market while acting as a key area that the Commission can propose as a means to improve the current situation.

Changes without endangering public interest are possible through achieving better complience with the Services Directive. National, regional, and local authorities are encouraged by the Commission to reduce undue or disproportionate burdens by making retail establishment procedures simpler, shorter, and more transparent.

The establishment of an even playing field will affect the operations of retail shops by emphasising common best business practices for sales promotions and discounts, specific sales channels, shop opening hours, retail-specific taxes, the purchasing of products in the other Member States and contractual practices of modern retail have been identified.

The Commission has also published a guide to assist the EU Member States in the revitalisation of city centres. Public officials will be given practical suggestions on how to help small retailers embrace technological change and meet the challenges of the future via real-life examples gathered from the best practices across the EU and transferred to a local setting.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said that the Commission is offering advice on how best to apply EU rules and follow the example of tried-and-tested reforms in other EU countries.”

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