European Commission Communication “A European Retail Sector Fit For The 21st Century

Dear Members,


Today, 19th April 2018, the European Commission published a communication “A European retail sector fit for the 21st century – Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions“. The communication follows the launch of a public consultation in July 2017, “Retail regulations in a multi-channel environment”, and to which GIRP had submitted an answer (see email attached).


The following four documents (attached) were released:


  1. European Commission Communication “A European retail sector fit for the 21st century” and its annex;
  2. Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication “A European retail sector fit for the 21st century”;
  3. Public consultation on “Retail regulations in a multi-channel environment” – synopsis report.


The European Commission’s stated objective is to help Member States and operators overcome the current challenges by addressing an accumulation of restrictions in the retail sector. The European Commission believes it has identified very concrete and effective best practices to guide Member States’ efforts in increasing the innovation, productivity and competitiveness of our retail sector. The Commission believes it can help Member States to apply EU rules and follow the example of tried-and-tested reforms in other EU countries.


The European Commission believes the main areas where Member States can make further progress:


  1. Facilitating retail establishment;
  2. Reducing restrictions to daily operations of shops;
  3. Adopting new approaches to promote vitality of city centres.


Additionally, the communication contains in its annex a “Retail Restrictiveness Indicator (RRI)” which aims at providing a useful snapshot of the state of play of retail in Member States. It helps to identify best practices as well as areas for possible reforms. The RRI is also a dynamic monitoring tool to measure Member States’ efforts in reducing retail restrictions and the impact of such reforms on market performance including productivity, prices and innovation, as well as spill-over effects on other sectors.


In addition to today’s guidance for Member States’ reforms and priority-setting for enforcement policy in the retail sector, the European Commission states that they will continue to monitor the evolution of the relevant regulatory frameworks and economic trends.


In the context of the release of this communication, yesterday GIRP had a meeting with the Head of Unit responsible for this dossier in the European Commission and was informed that they will be holding a conference to communicate directly with stakeholders on the communication on the 19th of June 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. A save the date for this event has been circulated but no agenda is yet available.


During our meeting it was underlined that the communication is seeking to strike a balance between traditional retail establishment and online retailing. The Commission representatives were eager to point out that the communication does not address in any way pharmacy ownership but rather references issues related to both establishment and operational restrictions in the retail sector as a whole. Specific references are made to Member State practices in relation to the sale of OTC medicines. This is the particular area of interest for GIRP and its members.


GIRP will now review the communication together with the accompanying documentation in more detail and discuss with members in the relevant working groups. GIRP will also discuss with the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU) the contents of the communication package in terms of alignment in any follow-up on our part.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Kind regards,


Monika Derecque-Pois               Martin FitzGerald

Director General                       Deputy Director General


GIRP — European Healthcare Distribution Association

Rue de la Loi 26, 10th floor, box 14 — B – 1040 Brussels — Belgium

phone: +32 2 777 99 77 — email: — web:

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