Conseil du Commerce de France (CDcF)
Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism – Svaz obchodu a cestovního ruchu ČR (SOCR ČR)
Swedish Trade Federation - Svensk Handel
The French, Czech and Swedish commerce sectors would like to highlight our priorities and seek for a strong support from EU main players. To encourage the growth not only in the commerce sector but for the EU economy to be functioning well there are four freedoms as the basic condition - free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour that are essential within the internal market of the European Union. Our major targets within the next period is to reinforce our commitment in corporate social responsibility, make our sector more competitive and better regulated and improve customer’s protection.
We would like to stress the importance of trade and commerce for the upcoming presidencies within the European Union. Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy. Commerce serves over a billion times a day as the link between manufacturers and the 493 million consumers across Europe. 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 95% of the 6 million companies in commerce are small & medium-sized enterprises. The sector is a major source of employment creation: over 31 million Europeans work in commerce and the sector is one the few sectors steadily creating employment across Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses. Nevertheless commerce sector is usually not supported anyhow from the governments.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
The commerce sector has developed a wide range of initiatives aimed at reducing its energy consumption and improving efficiency (efficient logistics, improved heating and cooling systems, use of renewable energy sources, REACH implementation etc.).
We would like to recall that achieving more sustainable production and consumption patterns is a shared responsibility. Influencing consumption patterns implies that all stakeholders play their role. In particular, commerce can inform consumers, but public authorities are responsible for their education.
Our companies are fully committed to contributing to support the EU objectives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and energy consumption.
MAKING EUROPE MORE COMPETITIVE
Europe's competitiveness also largely depends on its ability to maintain a strong and efficient industrial base open to foreign competition. The capacity to foster SMEs development, since they make up most of Europe's employment, is a crucial part of it. We are also in favour of an efficient single market for goods and services. Other elements that stimulate competitiveness and are supported by commerce sector include:
more flexible labour markets, adaptability of the workforce and skills development, education;
innovation, new technologies (RFID);
enhanced global free trade to open up new import and export markets for goods & services;
more transparency and competition in European payment systems;
We believe that free trade without barriers to trade will encourage a good climate for commerce. For the free commerce without barriers and its necessary development it is a vital prerequisite to reform the European Trade Defence Instrument (TDI) so that it will be a modern and efficient instrument, taking into account the interest of commerce and the possibilities to import goods into the EU.
We do favour ambitious results in the WTO Doha Development Agenda, and at the same time underline the importance of regarding new Free Trade Agreements (FTA) as temporarily solutions. The FTAs to be concluded between EU and third countries must be based on clear, simple, harmonized and liberal trade rules.
We do stress the importance of strengthening the relations with other markets, such as China, India, Russia and other emerging markets.
MAKING EUROPE BETTER REGULATED
Uni-Europa and EuroCommerce, the European Social partners in the commerce sector, have agreed in the framework of their social dialogue committee, to explore ways to reducing administrative burdens from small and medium-sized enterprises without compromising the employment and social needs and interests for their employees. In particular, we believe that administration which creates unnecessary cost without any benefit should be eliminated. It is also the case for the unnecessary administrative burdens which represent a general problem for creating growth and jobs in all companies - included the large ones.
Companies, especially the smaller ones, suffer from the complexity of legislation and administrative burdens. Therefore, we want to encourage initiatives at European, national and local levels, aiming at simplifying the regulatory environment and ensuring predictability and legal certainty. This implies calling upon the EU institutions, national and local authorities for a stronger commitment towards the implementation of the better regulation initiative.
We see the review of the consumer acquis as a practical example of Better Regulation in action. The objective of the review should be to create greater legal certainty and to promote consumer confidence in the Single Market. There is no doubt that we are all in favour of better regulation.
We enhance the delivery of results in the process of reducing both national and EU administrative burdens for business by 25%. We expect that this would lead to a better credibility of the functions of the internal market as well as lead to growth and creation of jobs in the European Union (Lisbon Strategy).
STRENGTHEN MARKET SURVEILLANCE AND FIGHT COUNTERFEITING
Well functioning market surveillance is crucial for the Internal Market and the free trade of goods. Market surveillance should encourage that the rules and laws set out for the safety of goods is also implemented correctly. Citizens of the European Union have the right to feel secure independent of the origin of the product. Furthermore it is vital for the competitiveness of businesses of the European Union. Well functioning market surveillance together with the consistent customs system for goods entering the single market will lead to a non-bureaucratic way to the control of safety of goods and will increase the credibility for the market. However, we must encourage the development of the market surveillance to be in line with the principle on which most of the EU legislation is founded, i.e. each operator is responsible within the limits of its activities.
We encourage the Member States to act proactively in this issue, to put the item of market surveillance on the agenda, to communicate the importance of the market surveillance to Governmental Agencies, businesses and citizens. This would give us the possibility to discuss, develop and to find specific solutions on how to implement the market surveillance mechanisms. We also believe that not only businesses but all citizens of the European Union would benefit. We stress the importance of not making the Market surveillance a tool for protectionism, but to develop the surveillance so that it will facilitate business, lead to better competition and support free trade.