Monthly Bulletin – April 2022

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Independent Retail Europe invites members to pledge aid to Ukraine

As per their agreement, Independent Retail Europe and the Association of Retailers of Ukraine (RAU) have invited our members to pledge aid in assistance of the Ukraine people. A first list of directly needed grocery products was sent to the members in March; another list was sent on 22 April. Members are kindly asked to contribute to the agreement. Members are also invited to communicate any other aid efforts they undertake to the Independent Retail Europe secretariat for display on our dedicated website, to demonstrate retailers’ active role in support of the Ukrainian people. Furthermore, members are asked to create or report employment schemes for Ukrainian refugees.

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Commission invites retailers to join the Supply Chain Resilience Platform

Europe is facing a number of economic, environmental and social challenges, most notably the crisis in Ukraine, with businesses severely affected by supply chain disruptions. To address these challenges the Enterprise Europe Network has established a Supply Chain Resilience platform. This helps companies retain, re-structure or replace existing supply chains, as well as source raw materials, parts, components and/or (semi-)finished goods or services they need to keep production going.

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Food security in the aftermath of COVID-19 and in the context of the Ukraine war

In the context of the food security situation and high food prices, after two years of COVID-19 pandemic and as a consequence of the war in Ukraine, the Commission has decided to accelerate the transformation of food systems by actively engaging in the United Nations’ Eight Global Coalitions for Action. Hence, the European Commission has published a Communication and postponed two legislative proposals on nature restoration and pesticide use. Likewise, the European Parliament has published a draft resolution to ensure food security in- and outside the EU in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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BusinessEurope Reform Barometer 2022 – The effects of COVID and the Ukraine war on the EU’s competitiveness

The 2022 BusinessEurope Reform Barometer was published on 23 March 2022. The report looks at the structural, long-term impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the EU economy, compared to other major developed economies through a range of economic indicators in the area of business environment, taxation, access to finance, labour market and innovation. The Reform Barometer, whilst prepared primarily before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, also looks in more detail at how the war will impact the EU economy.

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EU agrees its Digital Markets Act

On 24 March 2022, the French Presidency of the Council found an agreement with the European Parliament on the new EU Digital Markets Act (DMA). This new Act aims to restore fairness and competition in digital markets, through a set of obligations and prohibitions imposed on very large platforms considered as ‘gatekeepers’. Companies offering certain platform services in at least three Member States and which meet a set of cumulative quantitative thresholds will automatically be subject to the DMA (e.g. Amazon).

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European Parliament steps up its work on the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act

The European Parliament is making important progress on the Commission proposal for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. Debates have so far mostly focused on the need to curb certain risks that some AI products may pose to human rights or democratic processes, without inhibiting innovation. Many of Independent Retail Europe’s proposals to ensure more legal coherence between the AI Act and other product safety legislation have been retained in the draft report of the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee.

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Independent Retail Europe promotes cooperatives in its reply to the EU consultation on digital company law

On 4 April 2022, Independent Retail Europe sent its reply to the EU Commission consultation on digital company law. The consultation was gathering feedback about the need to extend company information covered by the EU BRIS system (which interconnects national business registers across Europe and makes available in a harmonised way some basic information about limited liability companies). Independent Retail Europe suggested extending this system to cooperative companies to ensure EU recognition of this model, with similar information disclosure as for limited liability companies, while taking into account the specific corporate structure of such cooperative companies.

Independent Retail Europe replies to the EU consultation on a minimum company tax

On 24 March 2022, Independent Retail Europe sent to the European Commission its comments on the proposal for a Directive on a minimum tax for multinational groups and large domestic companies. This proposal aims to implement Pillar II of the OECD/G20 Global Tax Reform Agreement, which foresees a minimum effective tax rate of 15% for these companies (see Circular 01/2022 of 17 January 2022). In its reply, Independent Retail Europe supported the goal of the Directive, but requested clarifications on the definition of ‘groups’ of companies and asked for a provision requiring Member States to implement this Directive with a low level of administrative requirements. The current French Presidency of the EU has high hopes to reach an agreement on the adoption of this Directive this spring.

Belgium competition authority uses its new powers on abuses of economic dependence against meat processors

On 1 April 2022, the Belgian Competition Authority announced that it had carried out an unannounced inspection at a professional association active in the bovine meat-processing sector. According to press reports, the inspection aimed to verify information about possible anti-competitive agreements or abuses of economic dependence (a new legal provision under Belgium competition law that prevents companies from abusing their superior bargaining power) by this meat-processing association vis-à-vis farmers. The agri-food sector is a prime target for the use of this new legal provision in Belgium.

First meeting of the Collaborative Platform on the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business

On 29 March 2022, the first meeting of the collaborative platform for the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices took place. The collaborative platform takes place once per year to discuss the general progress made by companies in the framework of the Code. The platform is constituted of the signatories to the Code, NGOs and civil society actors as well as the European Commission. During the platform meeting, the Chair of the Task Force presented the important reporting template for company commitments.

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Council and European Parliament agree on their respective positions on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

In March 2022, the European Parliament and the Council subsequently agreed their respective negotiation mandates at the first reading of the proposal. Particularly the Parliament position remains extremely problematic from our perspective, as it does not only ignore our relentless advocacy efforts to recognise our business model and avoid unnecessary reporting duplication in groups of independent retailers that have large retailers that fall into the scope of the Directive, but even widened the scope to potentially include high risk SMEs. The Council’s General Approach on the other hand excludes all SMEs from non-financial reporting obligations, provides for an exemption from reporting for subsidiaries, but does not yet extend this possibility to large independent retailers that are part of groups. Finally, the Parliament position also adds an obligation for actors falling under the scope of the CSRD to use different auditors for the financial and non-financial reporting, which both, we and the Council, oppose. We are now focusing all of our efforts to ensure that in times of escalating costs for independent retailers, large member retailers are not burdened with additional unnecessary obligations.

Rapporteur presents his draft report on the Deforestation Regulation

On 31 March 2022, the Rapporteur in the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee Christophe Hansen presented his draft report on the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on the making available on the Union market of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation. This concerns commodities and products containing, for instance, cacao, coffee, soy and wood. The report is an important step in the right direction, because it eliminates the duplication created by the Commission proposal in asking both operators (producers, importers) and large traders (retailers) to produce due diligence statements, as we request in our position paper.

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European Commission unveils its Sustainable Products Initiative

On 30 March 2022, the Commission presented a Communication to make sustainable products the norm in the EU. The initiative lays out the Commission’s vision of how it intends to make products more sustainable by transforming how they are produced and reducing related energy consumption and emissions, but also to improve the role of consumers in this transition.

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European Commission presents its new proposal for a Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products

The proposal for a Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products addresses product design, which determines up to 80% of a product lifecycle environmental impact. It sets new requirements to make products more durable, reliable, reusable, upgradable, reparable, easier to maintain, refurbish and recycle, and energy and resource efficient. In addition, product-specific information requirements will ensure consumers know the environmental impacts of their purchases. All regulated products will have Digital Product Passports.

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European Commission presents its new strategy for sustainable and circular textiles

The Textile Strategy proposes actions for the entire lifecycle of textiles products, and addresses the way textiles are designed and consumed, including by looking at sustainable technological solutions and innovative business models. By 2030, the Commission wants textiles placed on the market to be long-lived and recyclable, and made, to a large extent, of recycled fibres free of hazardous substances.

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Independent Retail Europe responses to the EU consultation on the right to repair

The European Commission consulted stakeholders on a possible right to repair, also touching upon the duration of legal guarantees, a new right to repair for situations where the legal guarantee does not yet apply, and the cost of repair services. Results of the consultation will lead to a revision of the Sale of Goods Directive (EU) 2019/771, expected to be presented in Q3 2022.

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Empowering consumers for the green transition – Amending the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive

The European Commission has submitted a proposal to amend the Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices (B2C practices) to ensure that consumers can take informed and environment-friendly choices. The new rules touch upon product information with regard to the expected life span and whether it can be repaired. Furthermore, the proposal intends to ban ‘greenwashing’ by adding untrustworthy environmental claims to the list of banned misleading commercial practices.

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European Parliament and Council adopt their positions on Batteries Regulation for trilogue

In the course of March 2022, the European Parliament and Council adopted their respective positions on the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation concerning batteries and waste batteries. The proposed Regulation will regulate all types of batteries, from the portable ones for consumers use in everyday devices to batteries built into electric vehicles. It aims to ensure that batteries in the EU are sustainable and safe throughout their entire life cycle. The proposed Regulation will also include rules for the labelling of batteries that are of interest. The European Parliament wants non-rechargeable batteries to carry the labelling ‘non-rechargeable’ from 2023 onwards, and the labelling for all portable batteries of general use to include an easily recognisable classification of their performance and durability from 2025. The Council, on the other hand, wants non-rechargeable portable batteries to be marked with a label containing information of their minimum average duration when used in specific applications, 18 months after entry into force. The Parliament, Council and Commission will now start trilogue negotiations, and we will keep members informed about any further developments.

Study on trade in counterfeit products that pose health, safety and environmental risks

On 17 March 2022, the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) published a study on dangerous fake products. The study found that most dangerous fakes are found among textiles, automotive spare parts, optical, and medical apparatuses and pharmaceuticals. China and Hong Kong are the most important exporters of dangerous fakes.

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Consultation on geographical indications

On 31 March 2022, the European Commission has proposed a draft regulation on European Union geographical indications for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products, and quality schemes for agricultural products, that is open for your feedback until 8 June. This is the last step of a consultation process that started in October 2020. The main controversy concerns the externalization of some tasks to the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office).

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New rules on health markings for heated tobacco products

The EU Commission intends to amend the Tobacco Products Directive in a way that heated tobacco products also fall under the prohibition of added characterising flavour and flavourings and also have to comply with the combined health warnings. The transition period is only six months after the entry into force.

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Interesting events

1. Annual Conference on EU Law in the Food Sector 2022 – 19-20 May – Brussels/online

The Academy of European Law will organise the following hybrid conference which will provide food law practitioners with an analysis of the recent legislation, case law and ongoing policy developments at EU level affecting the food sector.

Independent Retail Europe contacts can benefit from a 25% discount on the standard fee with the voucher code discount 422R34ACfol.

Key topics:

  • Farm to Fork Strategy/EU Green Deal
  • EFSA transparency rules/implementation update
  • Food waste, sustainability and circular economy
  • Novel Foods Regulation
  • Official controls of imports and exports of food products
  • Recent developments in labelling: focus on the alcoholic sector and the NutriScore schemes
  • Organic foods
  • CJEU case law
  • EU legislative and policy update


2. Shoptalk Europe marks the global expansion of Shoptalk. Taking place at ExCeL London on 6-8 June 2022, over 2.500 attendees from large retailers and brands, start-ups, technology companies, investors, media, and analysts will come together to learn, network, collaborate, and evolve. Furthermore, 250+ companies will be demonstrating the latest innovations and trends that continue to transform the sector globally. Across the three days, Shoptalk Europe will host 200+ truly diverse industry-leading speakers – from established retailers to innovative new start-ups and prolific investors.


3. Founded in 2015, DELIVER, Europe's premier community for e-commerce & logistics, aggregates thousands of decision makers to accelerate business connections and build meaningful conversations.

In its 7th year, DELIVER returns to Amsterdam on 8-9 June 2022, bringing together 1.500 of the ecommerce and logistics ecosystem, to share insight, make new connections and secure new contracts. With its unique hosted buyer format, DELIVER connects leading vendors with retailers who are actively looking for new solutions and technologies.

DELIVER is Europe’s biggest and most attended elite e-commerce and logistics event bringing together all important decision makers and the most famous brands of the retail, e-commerce and logistics industry.


4. As we emerge from the global pandemic, retailers are overwhelmed by the fast-changing retail landscape. Keynotion’s World Consumer Goods and Retail Forum is a must-come forum promising to deliver applicable takeaways to retailers’ challenges. Well-respected retailers like L’Oréal, Groupe are here to exchange ideas how they adapted, and how to prepare for the post-pandemic retail world. This Forum will be held on 23-24 June 2022, the Postillion Convention Center in AmsterdamAmong the key topics are:

  • Redefining the Post-Pandemic Shopping Experience and the Changing Consumer
  • Trends in Global Commerce and New Retail Business Models
  • Ecommerce Best Practices and Tactics for Maintaining Digital Growth Momentum
  • The Evolution of Physical Retail
  • Retail Innovations and Emerging Technologies

For your agenda - Independent Retail Europe meetings

  • Physical networking event for the members
    • Wednesday 1st June in Brussels
  • Board meetings 2022
    • Monday 2nd May – Online
    • Thursday 2nd June – In Brussels
    • Thursday 17 November – In Brussels
  • Physical General Assembly and Annual Conference 2023
    • Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 March in Copenhagen
  • Board meetings 2023
    • Thursday 9 February – In Brussels
    • Monday 22 May – Online
    • Thursday 1st June or Thursday 15 June – In Brussels
    • Thursday 16 November – In Brussels

Circulars, Info Flashes and e-mails sent in the past weeks

  • Consultation on product reparability and study on retailer’s experiences therewith – Please comment by 24 March COB (Circular 13/2022)
  • EU consultation on VAT in the digital age – Feedback needed until 15 April 2022 (Circular 14/2022)
  • Consultation on a revision of the Toy Safety Directive – Please comment by 13 May (Circular 15/2022)
  • EU Call for applications for a new Expert Group on B2B data sharing to advise on a non-binding model contract – Deadline 6 April 2022 (e-mail from 22 March)
  • EU Competition law – Consultation on draft revised Horizontal Guidelines – Please comment until 12 April 2022 COB (Circular 16/2022)
  • Evaluation of the EU Platform to Business Regulation – Urgent feedback needed by 28 March 16h00 (e-mail from 24 March)
  • Commission adopts new State Aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Info Flash 02/2022)
  • FOD retail 2040 – Broad Stakeholder survey (e-mail from 28 March)
  • EU consultation on reparability of products : Your approval of the IRE draft reply by 4 April (e-mail from 29 March)
  • EU agrees its new Digital Markets Act (Info Flash 03/2022)
  • Kind request for your support to contact your Member State representatives on the CSRD (e-mail from 30 March)
  • Deadline 15 April – EU Survey: How are agri-food businesses innovating products and practices towards a more sustainable EU agri-food sector? (e-mail from 8 April)
  • Draft reply to the EU consultation on the draft revised Horizontal Guidelines – Last comments until 25 April COB (e-mail from 22 April)

Recent newsletter of the EU Food Loss and Waste Prevention Hub

The European Commission invites third parties to share information on their food loss and waste prevention activities through the Hub. Please send information about your projects, publications, events, collaboration opportunities, etc. to the Independent Retail Europe secretariat. The EU Food Loss and Waste Prevention Hub will include the newest information in the next editions of the Hub’s newsletter.