"SHOP IN THE CITY - Initiative for vibrant inner cities and local trade" – this is the wording of the campaign logo, which was presented at a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels by Arne Gericke, ECPM MEP from the German Family Party.
Together with the ECR Group, of which he is a member, the 50-year-old politician plans to collect "good examples of vibrant inner cities" in Germany and throughout Europe during the coming months. "This is a topic that concerns almost all local politicians between Uppsala and Patras, between Lublin and Limerick", and it is those that Gericke and the ECR want to help connect more than ever. “Those that have good ideas, increase their chances of EU funding as a municipality. To support this, one must act - not talk. And that's what we do."
The conference, organised by Gericke and the ECR Group together with the European retail association "Independent Retail Europe" and the Mittelstand Verbund Germany on the "social importance of local trade in municipalities", showed how varied and complex the debate behind the slogan "Shop in the City" is. Mr Gericke noted, "There can be no vibrant inner cities without a functioning, local trade - and vice versa." At the same time, one must see that the developments in the digital sector exert “increasing pressures on local retailers throughout Europe. People want a vibrant centre with many shops – but then they buy online. Only: No business survives with air and love alone".
Again, according to the unanimous opinion of the experts, the EU should improve the framework for medium-sized retailers. "It cannot be that IKEA and Amazon always enjoy an almost tax-free environment - while small businesses have to give every second cent to the tax office.” Additionally, smaller measures are also crucial: "If the parking fees in a commune rise by 10 cents for each quarter of the hour, this is immediately felt by the local retailer.”
Mr Gericke came up with the idea for this campaign at an official appointment in a small town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: "I was a bit too early, had a meeting with the mayor for coffee in the last open Café of the area. The Mayor told me about his commitment to a vibrant city center - and how difficult it is to develop the Old Town using the best available ideas. Exactly here should my campaign start." Starting in Germany, Gericke and his ECR colleagues, are organizing in the coming months “round tables" with local politicians, business-people and citizens living in small and medium sized municipalities: "We collect ideas, discuss the key issues and try to help local municipalities with a similar profile to network - and to help concretely ".