Tackling unfair trading: ALDE welcomes new rules to better protect EU farmers
Today, MEPs paved the way for a set of new rules to better protect smaller operators and farmers in the food supply chain by adopting the new directive on unfair trading practises with a large majority. Soon, certain unfair trading practices will be banned, such as late payments for perishable food products, retroactive order changes or last minute cancellations, refusal by the buyer to sign a written contract with a supplier and the misuse of confidential information. Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament stressed today the importance of supporting EU farmers that are particularly vulnerable to unfair trading practices due to large differences in bargaining power.
MEP Elsi Katainen, ALDE Shadow Rapporteur on this file, commented today:
“I am glad that unfair trading practices will be eradicated at EU level. The new rules will introduce a better balance in the food supply chain. Farmers will finally have greater certainty and fewer risks to handle. This is good news for farmers and agri-food companies as well as for consumers who rightly demand fairly produced food.”
“In particular, smaller operators and farmers often lack bargaining power and alternatives to get their products to consumers. They are vulnerable to unfair practices employed by certain partners in the food chain. Today, we took the final hurdle to better protect our farmers against those bigger operators which act outside the rules. This directive sends an important message to farmers who are facing ever higher demands and increasing challenges with profitability.”
Note to editors
The directive will protect suppliers in the agricultural sector, which are micro enterprises, SMEs and mid-range enterprises and which have an annual turnover smaller than EUR 350 million when the buyer´s turnover is bigger. As the directive represents a minimum harmonization, Member States can introduce a higher level of protection into their national legislation and can envisage further measures. In addition to food products, the scope of the Directive includes, e.g. sales of agricultural products, related services and non-EU buyers. The new framework grants Member States the authority to enforce the new rules and impose sanctions in case of established infringements. After today’s vote, EU Member States will have to enforce this legislation within 30 months.