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Retail/wholesale responsibility in field of explosives precursors: the wrong way to combat terrorism


20 Nov 2012


Global Europe
Trade & Society

EuroCommerce fears that the European Parliament’s vote to limit access to chemicals which could be used in terrorism is misdirected. The shifting of responsibility onto retailers will not achieve the desired outcome and will place an unreasonable burden on merchants.

Today, the European Parliament voted in plenary on the Regulation on the marketing and use of explosives precursors. It confirmed the position taken by the Legal Affairs Committee in October to impose more burdens on the commerce sector through increased bureaucracy, new controls and new obligations.

Home-made explosives are a widely used tool for perpetrators of terrorist attacks. The vote of the European Parliament aims to reduce public access to some chemicals in high concentrations which can be used to make these home-made explosives.

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce believes that the negative effects on retail will exceed the effectiveness of the measure. “Limiting access to chemicals which can be used for illicit purposes is, of course, necessary,” he said. “However this should not result in an inappropriate shift of responsibility, nor should it reduce legal certainty or increase bureaucracy for companies, which will unfortunately be the case.”

The principle of responsibility is enshrined in European law(1). According to the text adopted today, the economic operator which makes available some mixtures to the general public has the responsibility of labelling the product or making sure that it is appropriately labelled. In practice, this task will fall on the retailer/wholesaler as they are normally the actor who makes products available to the public. However, only the importer or the manufacturer knows the exact content of its mixtures and is therefore the only one able to assess whether it should be labelled or not. The text also reduces legal certainty for companies as Member States can decide, unilaterally, to restrict or prohibit substances.


For further information, please contact:

Marjolein Raes

Director of Advocacy & Communications

Tel: +32 2 737 05 99

EuroCommerce and the commerce sector

EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries.

Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP. One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 99% of the 6 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies. The sector is a major source of employment creation: 33 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.

1) European Parliament and Council decision on the framework for the marketing of goods (768/2008/EC) sets the basic principle that each operator is responsible in relation to its respective role in the supply chain.


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