EuroCommerce, the body which represents the retail and wholesale sector in Europe, has observed that it is in the interest of the economy for member states to abide by EU rules and values.
The observation follows the release of second rule of law report by the European Commission on 20 July.
EuroCommerce director-general, Christian Verschueren, explained, “All societies rely on the law being applied equally and fairly, and business can only function properly within a predictable and effective legal framework. In removing this cornerstone on which the single market and Europe’s institutions are built, countries are undermining the very basis of the EU.
“They also – shortsightedly - hamper the ability of businesses such as retail and wholesale to invest, create jobs and operate to serve consumers. This is why we strongly support Commissioner Reynders in ensuring that Europe and its citizens can expect all counties to respect the rules-based system which the EU has established, and call upon the Commission to take action urgently needed to enforce those rules.”
The sector has already seen the harmful effects of lack of respect for the rule of law, particularly, but not exclusively, in Central and Eastern Europe.
Administrative And Legislative Action
EuroCommerce noted that retailers and wholesalers in these countries face arbitrary administrative and legislative action, often by decree sidestepping normal parliamentary procedures, with no proper access to national decision-makers and often judicial systems unable to function efficiently and independently provide proper redressal.
‘We see some governments adopting measures which are patently an infringement of EU law, or do not respect national case law - and ignore or seek to silence criticism during the decision-making process,’ EuroCommerce added.
In light of the above, the body has called upon the Commission to use any available instrument to act expeditiously against any infringement of the rule of law, including making EU funding conditional on its respect.
It has urged the Commission to make business perspective an integral part of the annual rule of law report from next year onwards.
In addition, it has asked member states to respect the rule of law and to refrain from protectionist and discriminatory measures against EU businesses active in their territory;
Lastly, it has also urged the European Parliament to continue its work in maintaining pressure on all EU and national institutions to restore and maintain rule of law across the EU.
Earlier this month, EuroCommerce welcomed the proposed revision of the General Product Safety Directive.