Today, the European Commission published a proposal for a directive on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain.
Friends of the Earth Europe, Oxfam, Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) and the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) welcome the new directive and call on the European Parliament and member states to strengthen the Commission’s proposal.
The need for such legislation comes from a wide spread acknowledgment that unfair trading practices are common in the EU and have harmful effects, especially on small and middle-sized enterprises in food supply chains, as well as farmers and farm-workers. Practices include squeezes on supplier prices, deductions or changing of prices and late payments. Large supermarkets or traders may also transfer excessive and/or unjustified risks to suppliers, affecting their capacity to survive in the market and having negative effects on their financial viability and capability to conduct business.
Hurray! We welcome today´s EC proposal to protect farmers (including non-EU farmers) from Unfair Trading Practices in food supply chains but a larger scope & closer enforcement coordination will be needed https://t.co/YlGnia1H9I &https://t.co/Me47vdnSCH https://t.co/rkFK1QHFFz pic.twitter.com/DByNZTYILR— Fair Trade Advocacy (@FairTradeFTAO) April 12, 2018
Oxfam’s EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, Marc-Olivier Herman, said: “Nobody should suffer to stock our supermarket shelves, yet too many small farmers in poor countries producing food for European supermarkets are struggling to make ends meet. This proposal could help them get a fairer deal for their produce. Women farmers are treated the worst – it is vital EU action delivers for them first and foremost.
Friends of the Earth Europe’s Food & Agriculture Campaigner, Stanka Becheva, said: “A small number of retailers control big parts of the food market in Europe. Although we welcome a legal framework to strengthen the position of farmers, we want to see complementary measures to support direct sales and short food supply chains, which bring the most for farmers, consumers and the environment.”
Fair Trade Advocacy Office’s Executive Director, Sergi Corbalan, said:“This is an important first step to eradicate unfair trading practices in our food supply chain. The European Parliament and member states must now move fast to improve the Commission’s proposal. The EU must ensure that the most vulnerable actors in the supply chain have access to a complaint mechanism and allow complaints against all companies importing food into the EU.”
Next steps: The European Parliament and European Council (bringing together national ministers) will discuss amendments to the Commission’s proposal separately in the coming months and should adopt them by the end of the year to allow for negotiations on the final text to take place before the Parliament elections of May 2019.
See Oxfam's press release and assessment of the directive.