By Maximilian Clarke

Discriminatory legislation is preventing UK retailers opening stores in other EU countries and denying customers in those countries the benefits a genuinely free and competitive market has brought in the UK, the British Retail Consortium has said.

The Consortium will host a debate entitled"Europe: Love it or loathe it, you can't ignore it” the Conservative Party Conference later today, discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the common market. The consortium will argue in favour of a single, open market, though argues that European member states are imposing barriers to cross border investment.

Specific barriers to outward investment faced by UK retailers include: restrictions on promotional sales offers; discriminatory taxation- as in Hungary’s ‘crisis tax’ that targeted Tesco and other large, foreign retialers over domestic competition; compulsory use of pricier, local suppliers instead of allowing the retailer to deal directly with producers; and restrictive national rules on e-commerce.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson will chair the BRC's Europe event at the Conservative Party Conference. He says: "The UK shows the clear economic and customer benefits that come from a genuinely open market. Too many other EU countries just don't get that. We currently have the disadvantages of a costly regulation machine without the full access to 500 million customers that a proper single market would give.

"I applaud the Commission's efforts to tackle discriminatory national legislation which makes it harder for UK retailers to invest in other EU countries and denies their customers the benefits. At a time when export-led growth is crucial, the Commission needs to work harder to bring down those barriers and other member states must meet their obligations."

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