Brussels Daily
08 Jun 2017


Brussels Daily

EU law essential to fight unfair trading in food chain, Agriculture MEPs and three farm ministers agree

EU Commission must quickly table a draft EU law to fight unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, Agriculture MEPs and Czech, Slovak and Slovene farm ministers agreed on Monday.

Enough talking, the time has come for an EU law against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain and the Commission should table the draft as soon as possible. This was the main message member of the Agriculture Committee and Agriculture Ministers from Slovakia, Czech Republic and Slovenia, Ms Gabriela Matečná, Mr Marián Jurečka and Mr Dejan Židan respectively, agreed on during the debate on Monday afternoon.


Ministers: Basic EU wide rules necessary

The voluntary Supply Chain Initiative “has not borne fruit” and so EU needs binding common rules, Slovak Minister Matečná said at the beginning of the debate. The non-paper titled Better Functioning of the Food Supply Chain: addressing unfair trade practices (UTP’s) and improving the position of farmers, supported by Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, “should provide the basis for the EU legislation,” the Slovak Minister said calling on the Commission to table a draft proposal “as soon as possible.”

Czech Minister, Mr Jurečka, noted that the fact that three ministers appear in the Agriculture Committee proves that unfair trading practices is a matter of concern for all member states. “I am not a fan of regulation” but “where market environment did not create a requisite balance” there is a “need to regulate,” he said.

“Transparency alone does not improve the situation of farmers,” said Slovenian Minister Mr Židan. Unfair trading practices are a “common problem” and so member states “need to solve it together,” he said stressing that voluntary approach is not working and at least basic rules are required on an EU level.


MEPs: EU law is needed…

Most of MEPs who took the floor in the debate reiterated Parliament’s call for an EU-wide law to tackle unfair trading in the food supply chain.

After years of just talking without any solution problems in the food supply chain have become more acute, claimed Bronis Ropė (Greens/EFA, LT) insisting that farmers and member states alone cannot adopt an effective solution and so “the EU has to define basic principles” preferably by the end of the year.

As long as the situation in the food supply chain resembles a fight of David with Goliath, the EU has to do something about it, said Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL, IE). “If this means an EU wide legislation, we will have to go down that road,” he said.


…and it is needed now

The Commission has to come up with a draft EU rules as soon as possible, said Albert Dess (EPP, DE) specifying that it should ensure, among other things, that the retailer concentration does not increase above certain level and that retailer brands indicate on the package the name of a producer.

Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) noted that even without a draft Commission proposal on the table the Agriculture Committee had adopted amendments to the so-called Omnibus proposal on, for instance competition rules, delivery contracts and supply concentration, that should strengthen farmers’ position vis-à-vis other actors in the supply chain.


MEPs: Don’t reinvent the wheel, look at what has been working…

The EU law, accompanied by dissuasive sanctions, is needed because voluntary initiatives “have not worked,” said Clara Eugenia Aguilera García (S&D, ES). But it should be based on existing national frameworks, she added.

The Commission should not “reinvent the wheel” but rather look in what had been working in member states, agreed Mairead McGuinness (EPP, IE) insisting that the committee “will be unrelenting in demanding that action to be taken.”


…and make sure EU rules do not undermine efficient national ones

But John Stuart Agnew (EFDD, UK) warned that EU-wide rules could undermine existing national anti-UTPs actions, especially those efficient enough, create “enormous administration” and “open doors to corruption.”

You will soon be able to re-watch the full debate via VOD.


Press conference

Before the debate, at 13:30, the three ministers and the Chair of the Agriculture Committee Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL) held a joint press conference. You can watch it again via VOD.



European Parliament adopted several resolutions with recommendations on ways to do away with unfair trading practices and help farmers deal with volatile prices, market shocks and production risks.

Most recently the Agriculture Committee amended the so-called Omnibus proposal of the European Commission to, inter alia, strengthen farmers’ position in the food supply chain. In that vote MEPs called once again on the Commission to table a draft EU law to combat unfair trading practices.

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