In today’s EuroCommerce’s Policy Talk, European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni recognised the role of retailers during the past year: “We discovered or rediscovered the importance of retail during this pandemic”. The Commissioner was also upbeat about the prospect for recovery in Europe: “We will have a process beginning already this year, and continuing in 2022, where some economies will probably reach at the end of 2021 the level of GDP that we had in December 2019, and others will reach it next year.”
The Policy Talk was held as a conversation with EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren, and a joint session with Retail Connected, an online venture of Retail Week and the World Retail Congress. Verschueren said: “Commissioner Gentiloni has given us some valuable insights into the Commission’s assessment of the economic outlook, its approach to the rollout of the ‘Next Generation EU’ recovery package, and the assessment of national plans to disburse the funds under it. He also highlighted areas where retailers, with support from recovery plans, can benefit from those and be actors of the green and digital transformation of Europe, for example in the renovation wave or the connectivity and digitalisation of retail.”
The Commission had identified our sector as one of the hardest hit by the COVID crisis and in most need of investment to meet the challenges of the digital and green transition. Both elements of this transition have been accelerated significantly by the pandemic, with consumers going online and focussing on sustainable and healthy living. Retailers and wholesalers can make a major contribution to Europe’s recovery but need a properly working EU single market and direct support to step up the already considerable investments our sector has made in digitalisation and making our processes and the products we sell as sustainable as possible.
Commissioner Gentolini also shared his views and the Commission’s actions on digital levy and corporate taxation, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, and the modernisation of customs.
The 30-min Policy Talks can be watched on-demand here.