Fabian Demicoli

Action Plan for European Retail


The editorial of the latest issue of
the Employers' Group Members of EESC, Vincent Farrugia Director General of the
GRTU Malta Chamber of SME's and Maltese Employers representatives at EESC
appealed for a European Action Plan for Retail. Mr. Farrugia wrote that Retail is a
European success story, employing around 18 million people and accounting for
4.2% of GDP.

One in five European SMEs are retailers. Retail efficiency keeps
prices down for consumers and ensures choice. This strong and competitive sector
could grow even further, employ more people and provide even better value for
consumers. A focus on skills needs, flexible forms of employment, and reducing
undeclared work is required. Retail could play a valuable role in meeting EU
2020 targets for smarter and sustainable growth.

To achieve this European Commerce needs
a full and proper implementation of the Services Directive, the removal of
discriminatory trade and tax laws, and selective planning laws, the
establishment of an efficient digital retail market underpinned by competitive
and efficient payment services, and a significant reduction in the cumulative
impact of regulation. Legislation must not inhibit online cross border sales. A
test should apply      to current and future legislation, its implementation
and enforcement by Member States.

The Commerce sector need more effective
action on infringements, strengthening enforcement with greater administrative
co-ordination and acceleration of infringement procedures; stronger
notification procedures, and; better assessment of the impact on retail. There
should be an expert group on planning and the freedom of establishment.

Following the Commission's retail
market monitoring report of July 2010, and the Parliament's report on "a more
efficient and fairer retail market", the major EU level bodies representing
employers in retail trade want to work with the Parliament and Commission to
address the barriers, often regulatory, facing retailers and to secure greater
recognition of retail's important contribution to the European economy, now and
in the future.

These proposals relate to existing or
planned Commission initiatives. Both their impact on retail and their
importance for retail must be recognized. The European Action Plan for Retail
should: 

Enable a fully functioning internal market for goods,
services and capital,

Make the digital agenda a reality for business and
consumers,

Support employment, skills development and
entrepreneurship,

Support expansion beyond EU markets.

 

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