SME Chamber

An Action Plan for Retail

The European Commission
published earlier this year a communication making an official commitment to
the setting up of a European Retail Action Plan. The Communication is high on
GRTU's agenda. We have in fact been involved in discussions at a very early stage,
prior to the issuance of this Communication and later when it was issued we
also submitted a detailed position paper to the Maltese Government to outline
our priorities.

GRTU is now monitoring progress and lobbying in favour of
retail and against any negative aspects that some stakeholders are seeking to
have included.As Europe's biggest
private sector employer, retail has the potential to continue creating new jobs
and wealth. Retail thrives in Europe, employing around 18 million people across
the EU and accounting for 4.2% of GDP. 20% of Europe's SMEs are retailers.

The Communication is a
significant step for retail to be given the importance it deserves. The
Commission's Retail Market Monitoring Report (July 2010) recognised the
positive role that retail plays in Europe's economy and identified a number of
issues that need to be addressed in order to allow the sector to realise its
full potential thus contributing to further economic growth and job creation.

The Commission's plan
aims to further integrate the retail sector in the internal market through the
identification of five objectives intended to create more competitive and
sustainableretail services, encouraging innovation and empowering consumers
through better information.

GRTU was very pleased to
learn that a Maltese MEP, David Casa, has been entrusted with drafting an
Opinion for the European Parliament on such an important topic for GRTU and its
members. So far the opinion seems very positive.

The Opinion focuses on
the importance of addressing the mismatch between labour force skills and the
requirements of the retail sector, suggesting that action in this regard could
enhance the employability of young people, long-term unemployed, older workers
and people with disabilities. It also calls for the enhanced use of existing EU
instruments, such as the Skills Sector Alliance, which support structured
partnerships between skills providers and businesses. The Opinion also gives
importance to micro enterprises in terms providing support for new trends that
enhance efficiency in the provision of retail services.

Mr Casa is currently in
process of accepting amendments to his Opinion; he will then be responsible for
negotiating compromises with other MEPs prior to a vote in the Parliament's
Employment Committee in the coming weeks.

GRTU is informed that
some amendments are being proposed by fellow MEPs which we consider to be
negative. These mostly concern aspects related to shop opening hours, wages and
other issues which we feel are best dealt with at national level. It is not
only an issue of subsidiarity, whereby some issues are the responsibility of
the Member States and not the EU, but also practicality, if we cannot reach
agreement on certain sensitive issues at Member State level, how are we
expected to agree at EU level? Each Member State has its own traditions,
religious beliefs and social system and on such aspects decisions concerning
shop opening hours and working time are based. This is how it should be.

GRTU will also be
lobbying at this important stage of the Opinion before the it is approved by

What we can do for you










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