Retail industry body EuroCommerce has lauded a study completed by the Benelux region, which looks at methods of creating a single retail market between the three states, as an example for the European single market.
It said recommendations made in the report would help the single market function more efficiently, benefitting EU consumers on and off-line.
The Benelux coalition, which is made up of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, launched a report titled 'Benelux Retail 2025', which outlines the opportunities and challenges of retail in the Benelux region.
EuroCommerce said the report could be an example for the EU, by looking at the integration of the three domestic markets to benefit growth, jobs and consumers, which includes producing a stronger digital market.
Such a move could create 95,000 new jobs and 36,000 new businesses, the group said.
Director general Christian Verschueren commented, “Retailers and wholesalers have long pointed to the many and significant barriers to doing business across borders in the EU. The Benelux initiative on jobs and growth launched by the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg prime ministers in 2015 are valuable pointers for how consumers in all countries of EU could benefit if single market barriers were removed, and the digital and offline market worked as it should.
"We are keen to see the recommendations quickly implemented and used as a model for the whole EU."
'Second home market'
The body commented that many retail operators consider the Benelux as a 'second home market', but feel restricted in cross-border trade.
EuroCommerce said it was 'particularly pleased' to see the report illustrate of number of issues which frustrate the ambitions of retailers and wholesalers in the Benelux and the EU.
These issues included: 'gold-plating' of EU legislation, (when an EU directive is given additional powers when implemented by different member states); distinct labelling requirements and product standards; and financial issues raised by 28 different VAT regimes and divergent payments systems. The Benelux report also raised the issue of problems created when manufacturers create restrictions on where and what retailers can purchase.
“These are all issues which hold back retail across Europe from offering consumers choice, and the best products at the best price. Action by Benelux to create a single market for the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg can show the way for Europe at a time when the EU urgently needs new impetus to create growth and jobs”, Verschueren added.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.