Publikováno: 4. 9. 2008
Main topics discused lately at the European level regarding commerce sector, news from EuroCommerce
N°6/2008 – 27.08.2008
High Level Group on agri-food discusses relationships between commerce and suppliers
The High Level Group on the competitiveness of the agro-food industry, launched last spring, held a number of working group meetings in July. These working groups looked at various issues related to the functioning of the food chain such as the Common Agricultural Policy, trade policy, pricing, environment and regulatory issues.
During these meetings and on the basis of data provided by members, EuroCommerce addressed several common misperceptions on issues such as relations between retailers and farmers, between suppliers and commerce, profit margins in commerce, components of a price, etc. We explained the functioning of the food supply chain and the creation of added value throughout the various stages from farm to shops. We emphasised the importance of competition in commerce and demonstrated the positive role played by the commerce sector in the fight against inflation. We further highlighted the efforts made by the commerce sector on environment and social issues, as well as in revitalising city centres and rural areas.
These meetings gave another opportunity to call for the reform of trade defence instruments and to emphasise the role of commerce in sustainable development. Furthermore, the need to educate consumers was highlighted as the key to success of campaigns aimed at influencing consumer behaviour – eg. In the fight against obesity, alcohol misuse and in encouraging the purchase of green products.
Commission sets a strategy for greener transport: road transport risks being hit!
On 8 July the European Commission launched its “Greening Transport Package” aimed at moving transport further towards sustainability. The package includes the revision of the Eurovignette Directive and the Strategy to Internalise External Costs. This new proposal allows member states to introduce road tolls designed to recover costs linked with pollution, noise and road congestion as well as the costs of road construction and maintenance.
In a press release on 9 July 2008 EuroCommerce stressed that increasing the cost of road transport will not result in a shift to other transport means, co-modality or greener transport until efficient and effective alternative modes of transport or fuels are available. EuroCommerce also stressed the problem of “last mile” deliveries, in particular in city centres, which must, to a large extent, remain road transport.
In our reply to the Commission’s consultation on the “internalisation of external costs” in December 2007, EuroCommerce warned that road transport already attracts more charges than other transport modes and suffers heavily from increasing fuel prices. Also crucial is that transport operators are not made to pay twice for the same costs and that there is a level-playing field between the different modes.
The revision of the Eurovignette Directive aims to introduce a methodology for the calculation of the negative impact of road transport in the overall costs of all modes of transport. However, the proposal only includes vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.
EuroCommerce has pointed the Commission to the real need to encourage clean and efficient solutions for vehicles and the use of improved traffic flow technologies instead of increasing taxes on road transport. Such a strategy will not make transport greener in Europe or result in less traffic: it will be simply more expensive.
In a period of increasing energy and food prices, the consumer will suffer the consequences, as the commerce sector will have no alternative than to pass costs down the supply chain.
EuroCommerce will continue to lobby regarding road transport and infrastructure charging.
Participation of EuroCommerce in the Employment Week
The Commission’s Employment Week 2008, on 11 and 12 June, focussed on the theme “Adapting to Change, Making Europe a Prosperous Labour Market”. Mr Jean-Luc Delenne (Carrefour) represented EuroCommerce in debates on how Europe's businesses and economies are coping within the challenges of globalisation and demographic change.
In his presentation on “flexicurity”, Mr. Delenne argued that a balancing of labour market flexibility with income security is the best way to adapt to globalisation. In France, he explained, companies had used principles established at EU level to set up social dialogue and partnership programmes and to establish continuous training that follows employees throughout their career. To facilitate such schemes, member states must adapt their legal frameworks to allow for optimum implementation of flexicurity principles at national level.
Lukewarm reaction of EuroCommerce to the launch of the Renewed Social Agenda
On 2 July, the European Commission published its Renewed Social Agenda aimed at improving the access of citizens to social justice. EuroCommerce welcomes the holistic approach adopted by the Commission to respond to social challenges through both legislative and non-legislative initiatives. However, the commerce sector would have preferred to see the flexicurity principles better highlighted in the new proposal.
The new ‘social agenda’ proposes measures to:
- improve access to medical care outside patients’ home country
- strengthen the role of European works councils, which represent workers in large companies and operate in more than one EU country
- improve integration of minorities
- improve measures to counter discrimination
- incorporate international maritime working standards into European law.
However, the employers in the commerce sector are concerned that the Commission’s draft proposals on the European Works Council and the proposed directive on non-discrimination regarding access to goods and services could increase burdens for companies and complicate, rather than improve, the social dialogue.
The Commission unveils its sustainability package: retailers involved more than ever!
Climate change and the growing demand for energy and resources are the main challenges faced by European economies today. Integrating environmental sustainability in production and consumption patterns is therefore a necessity.
The series of proposals on sustainable consumption and production put forward by the Commission on 16 July 2008 come within the scope of the integrated approach to sustainable development. These proposals aim at improving the environmental performance of products and stimulating their market uptake. Concretely, the Action Plan sets out a series of voluntary and mandatory actions to better define eco-friendly products, inform consumers through improved labelling and support their purchase through public procurement and fiscal incentives.
The commerce sector shares the view that achieving sustainable consumption and production is a key challenge for the future. Within the framework of this sustainability plan retailers have announced that they are working with the Commission to develop a Retailers' Environmental Action Programme (REAP). REAP will provide a basis that facilitates both dialogue with the Commission and other stakeholders, such as producers and key consumer bodies, as well as actions by retail members, within the competitive retail environment.
International Trade, Integration of new Member States and Enlargement
Antidumping: Duties on low energy light bulbs come to an end and duties on shoes set to end, but EU manufacturers request another extension
EuroCommerce warmly welcomes the decision by Osram to withdraw its request to extend anti-dumping duties on energy saving CFl-I light bulbs. A large number of those products will be made available to consumers at a lower price so benefiting European consumers.
However, leather footwear manufacturers have requested another extension of the antidumping duties on imports of leather shoes from China.
Both duties were set to end in October 2008, according to compromises agreed by the EU member states last year (on light bulbs) and in 2006 (on shoes). The extension request leaves importers and retailers facing uncertainty. EuroCommerce has urged the European Commission and the Member States to refrain from extending the duties, highlighting the importance of consumer prices, predictability and legal certainty. In the light bulbs case, EuroCommerce had also reminded the EU of the need for consistency between environmental, energy and trade policies, recommending the creation of incentives for the imports of environmentally-friendly products rather than penalising them.
WTO: EU Market Access Partnership: New opportunities for retailers and wholesalers
The European Commission’s Market Access Partnership (MAP) programme seeks to address market access problems in the area of services. For retailers and wholesalers facing problems related to economic needs tests, size restrictions, cumbersome bureaucracy etc. in third countries, the MAP will provide an additional tool to address their problems – without going through the lengthy process of trade negotiations. EuroCommerce has encouraged and welcomed this initiative in the framework of its Export Working Group.
EU-RUSSIA: Launch of negotiations
The European Union and Russia have launched negotiations for a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement aimed at fostering trade between the two trading blocks. EuroCommerce has provided the European Commission with a list of our priorities for the upcoming talks: harmonisation of norms and standards, integration of logistical networks, mutual recognition of veterinary agreements and the introduction of e-customs.
The new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will replace the existing framework put in place 1997 and offer new opportunities and benefits for European retail and wholesale.
EuroCommerce met with the following MEPs:
Food information to consumers
Mrs. Renate Sommer, EPP-ED (rapporteur)
Mrs. Kartika Liotard, GUE/NGL (shadow rapporteur)
Mrs. Christel Schaldemose, PSE
Mrs. Bernadette Vergnaud, PSE (rapporteur IMCO)
Mrs. Kathy Sinnot, IND/DEM (shadow rapporteur)
Mr. Horst Schnellhardt, EPP-ED
Mr. Adreas Schwab, EPP-ED
Mr. Magor Imre Csibi, ALDE
For further information contact Hana Michovska, Tel: +420 224 805 159, email@example.com
Autor: Hanka Michovska