Unfair trading features high on the political agenda today with the publication of a Green Paper aimed at stimulating growth across the European Single Market. A three-month consultation will help the European Commission to assess the magnitude of unfair trading practices and gather evidence on their effect on the economy and on cross-border activity.
The consultation forms part of the Commission's Retail Action Plan which aims to empower consumers through better information and provide fairer and more sustainable trading relationships along the food and non-food supply chain. The retail and wholesale services sector is one of the most important in the EU economy and should play an important part in stimulating growth and job creation under the Europe 2020 strategy. It accounts for 11% of EU GDP and 29% of European SMEs and employs nearly 33 million people, offering job opportunities in particular for young people, women and people with lower skill levels or qualifications.
Barriers to growth
However, a number of barriers remain that hinder the smooth functioning of cross-border sourcing, consumer access to cross-border retail services and market entry for retailers.
The Green Paper aims to examine the effectiveness of self-regulatory and legislative frameworks put in place to address those practices at national level and will look into the question of whether these divergent approaches may lead to a fragmentation of the Single Market.
Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said
“Retailers play an important role in bringing the Single Market to EU consumers. However barriers to the creation of an efficient and competitive single market in retail remain. This Action Plan sets out a strategy to improve the competitiveness of the retail sector and to enhance the sector’s economic, environmental and social performance."
Commissioner Barnier continued:
"We also want fair play. Unfair trading practices jeopardise the viability of businesses and make the retail supply chain inefficient. Consumers should have competitive prices but I also want suppliers to retail to receive fair prices for their products.”
All interested parties are invited to submit their views in response to the questions raised by the Green Paper by 30 April 2013.