In 2009, after acknowledging that an "efficiently operating and competitive EU retail sector is essential for achieving the EU single market", the European Commission launched a "retail monitoring exercise" to identify possible market malfunctions that affect the competitiveness of the sector.
On 5 July, the commission unveiled the results of the report and launched a public consultation with a view to getting input on the ways to address the main barriers identified.
In the report, the commission identifies five main categories of problems that hamper the retail sector. These are the difficulty of accessing retail products, lack of common measures to assess environmental impacts across product lifecycles, unfair commercial practices, malfunctioning of the labor market in the retail services market and a lack of information to consumers.
The report also highlights issues of concern that include a lack of efficiency and diversity across commercial planning rules together with malfunctioning of the commercial property market. The commission argues that several factors could likely make access to a given market difficult. These include a lack of harmonised national, regional and local commercial planning frameworks, coupled with different rules on property and land ownership as well as a European commercial property development market, which could give rise to malfunctions at local level.
The commission will consult widely on this report and will bring forward concrete proposals in the autumn. ICSC's Public Affairs Committee is drafting a response to this consultation, based on comments received from members.
Sources: Europolitics, Euractiv, European Commission