Save the corner shop!

6 July 2010

Save the corner shop!

The European Commission yesterday published a report on the retail trade in Europe. For the first time the Commission recognised the growing importance of the small shop, but SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong notes with concern that this was not accompanied by any concrete proposals designed to strengthen the position of such shops. In De Jong's view, it's high time that Europe saw once again a fine-meshed network of local shops. "The Commission is correct to say that it is of enormous importance for the quality of life in villages, but also for the environment and for older people with reduced mobility, that we have not only hypermarkets and shopping malls, but also 'corner shops', where people can do their everyday shopping."

Dennis de Jong De Jong is less positive when it comes to the report's recommendations for harmonisation of regulations in relation to, for example, consumer protection, contract law and spatial planning, a proposal intended to encourage retail companies in one member state to become active outside their own countries, as Dutch food store chain Albert Heijn is currently doing with its crack at the Belgian market. According to De Jong, "This is to a great extent a matter of national rules. As we have seen previously in Commission proposals to harmonise consumer protection, the Dutch consumer would have lost out, something we don't want to see. Spatial planning is in any event a policy area that depends strongly on the local situation, and you can't simply harmonise that."

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