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JOOST KOOMEN, Head of European Public Affairs at ICSC Europe. Image: ICSC


An important judgement clarifying European rules on retail establishment; a very strict EU data protection regime; a binding number of charging points for e-vehicles for buildings with more than 10 parking spaces. These are a few examples of important, new rules for the retail property industry adopted by the EU in recent years — and together, they’re a good example of why European policymaking is increasingly important for our sector.



At the same time, 2019 is an election year for the EU. Brussels decision-makers are already preparing the policy agenda for the new mandate. They will be eager to receive good ideas and input from external stakeholders such as NGOs, individual companies, academia, local authorities, media and trade associations like ICSC Europe (where I am the new Head of European Public Affairs).

This provides an opportunity for ICSC Europe to shape the future EU policy agenda on issues that are important to the sector. Indeed, all these different stakeholders are active on the advocacy front in Brussels, very often on a daily basis. Many of them have some form of permanent establishment there. According to the EU Transparency Register – the EU’s official registry for lobbyists – 11,902 organisations are registered to lobby the EU institutions, employing about 85,000 people.

Our sector’s entire value chain is represented in Brussels, both our business partners and service providers as well as the (local) authorities that we engage with. Some of them have a very significant presence, such as the retail, e-commerce and food-and-beverage sectors, but also cities and regions are well represented.

Unfortunately, some serious misconceptions about retail real estate, in general, and about shopping centers, in particular, persist among policy makers and other stakeholders in both Brussels and beyond. These can, of course, have a negative impact on achieving favourable policy outcomes on important themes for our sector such as, for example, sustainability, a level playing field between offline and online market participants, security, urban regeneration and social inclusion.

ICSC Europe and its working committees focused on public affairs have addressed these misconceptions and important EU policy issues in the last couple of years. They have managed to achieve positive outcomes on relevant EU proposals, such as the revision of the Energy Performanceof Buildings Directive. Building on the good work done in the past, ICSC Europe has committed to its membership to become even more active on the EU advocacy front.

At a time when the sector is facing massive challenges to its business model and political instability looms on the horizon in the EU, not least due to Brexit, it has decided to beef up its presence in Brussels by appointing a Head of European Public Affairs. A permanent establishment in Brussels enables ICSC Europe and its members to explain and communicate to EU stakeholders the important role the sector plays on a daily basis at this crucial point in time in the EU.

As ICSC Europe’s new Head of European Public Affairs, I am committed to working together with the membership to make sure that our voice is heard, and our views are part of all upcoming, relevant EU policy proposals. For me it’s clear that a sector that employs more than 6.3 million people, generates an annual turnover of more than 750 billion euros, and occupies a combined floor space (GLA sq m) comparable to the size of the entire city of Brussles deserves a seat at the table. Let’s face it, if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu!

About ICSC

ICSC serves the global retail real estate industry. We provide our 70,000+ member network in over 100 countries with invaluable resources, connections and industry insights, and actively work together to shape public policy.

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