EuroCommerce director-general Christian Verschueren has emphasised that retail and wholesale play a pivotal role in driving Europe's economic recovery and global competitiveness.
Speaking at the EU Industry Days event, Verschueren also stressed that retail and wholesale are under immense pressure and in urgent need of help.
Verschueren said, "As recognised by the European Commission, retail and wholesale is one of the essential ecosystems and one the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Private consumption makes up over half of European GDP. As a consequence, the retail and wholesale ecosystem is pivotal to creating markets for the goods and services that many ecosystems produce, and it is crucial for the economic recovery."
He added that millions of SMEs in retail and wholesale face imminent bankruptcy and require urgent help to continue and accelerate their digital and green transformation.
It is almost a year since many non-food shops, restaurants and cafes, supplied by food wholesalers, have remained shut or are facing severe restrictions.
It is likely that many of these businesses will never open again after COVID-19 is beaten, EuroCommerce noted.
In addition, many town centres will face shuttered shops and restaurants, with a direct societal impact on the communities they served.
These factors make the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery fund and the EU budget vital in driving recovery across the EU.
Equally important are policy solutions to underpin this, EuroCommerce added.
Last year, the body called for a European Pact for Commerce, with ten investment measures and ten policy measures.
It will continue to call for those measures over the coming months as national governments prepare and submit recovery plans for their respective countries, and the Commission assesses those.
Getting the balance right in how the unprecedented funds under the NGEU are spent will determine the future of Europe as a globally competitive economy in a global yet increasingly challenging trading environment, EuroCommerce said.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.