The European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached an agreement to put in place an EU unfair trading practices ban covering the full food supply chain.
The EU unfair trading practices ban will cover 100 per cent of EU farmers and a large majority of EU agri-food companies; and will represent the first time EU legislation covering fairness in the food chain is implemented. The agreement, designed to ensure fairness across the EU food supply chain and provide a minimum level of protection for farmers, gives Member States the authority to enforce the ban and impose sanctions on transgressors.
The new rules will cover retailers, cooperatives, food processors, wholesalers and single producers. Practices outlawed under the EU unfair trading practices ban include:
- Late payments for perishable food products;
- Last minute cancellation of orders;
- Retroactive or unilateral changes made to contracts;
- Refusing to commit to written contracts; and
- Buyers forcing suppliers to pay for wasted products.
Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, who attended the final meeting on the EU unfair trading practices ban, said: “Today’s agreement paves the way for a first-time EU law which provides significant protection for all EU farmers, their organisations as well as small and mid-range businesses. They will now be protected against all bigger operators acting unfairly and outside the rules. I would like to express my appreciation to all the negotiators, whose constructive approach and hard work ensured today’s political agreement. I am particularly pleased that the agreement was achieved within a remarkably short eight months of the proposal’s presentation by the Commission.”
The implementation of the EU unfair trading practices ban will not lead to higher costs for consumers; when the Commission was in consultation over the new rules it found consumer groups advocated for tighter legislation on fairness in food trading, as unfair trading practices have negative long term effects on the consumer. Once the text of the agreement is formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council, Member States will have to build the text into their own laws.