Whilst we acknowledge that change processes are necessary, the force with which they are being driven forward inside the European Union has a range of impacts for the REWE Group. These are felt by the REWE Group itself, which represents 380,000 employees in 21 countries on the one hand. And on the other hand, REWE as a whole, the REWE Group’s Public Affairs team and the Retailers division are particularly focused on the interests of the 1,800 independent REWE retailers. Due to the owner-operated model, some of the regulations that have been adopted or are currently pending will or may have a significant effect on these retailers. All these interests must be represented at the political level in Berlin and Brussels, in the German federal states and at the regional level. This is crucial for our customers and our employees, as well as for the independent REWE retailers to whom we, as a cooperative, have a particular duty.
To ensure that cooperatives in the mid-market sector can thrive, it remains imperative, even at EU level, that companies form associations and work together to mutually strengthen their position because, truth be told, Brussels is a place where individual companies struggle to make their voices heard.
I am therefore delighted that Independent Retail Europe (IRE) is celebrating its 60th anniversary at this time. The association, of which I have been president since 2019, has been championing the interests of cooperative business models for six decades. IRE speaks on behalf of 23 independent retail associations across Europe, currently representing almost 462,000 independent retailers and 6.5 million employees. These impressive figures demonstrate the huge importance of independent retail, both food and non-food, in Europe.
It is my belief that the strong influence of Brussels on national legislation makes it essential to participate actively in associations, seek practical input from companies, collaborate on positions and engage in policy discussions. Independent Retail Europe puts the share of national retail legislation based on EU law at 65 percent.