Unfair trading practices: Farm Europe welcomes European Parliament’s vote
Today, the European Parliament adopted by a very large majority (428 votes in favour to 170 against and 18 abstentions) MEP Paolo De Castro’s report on the EU Directive against Unfair Trade Practices in the food supply chain. This vote makes it now possible to adopt the Directive before the end of the current term of office and therefore ahead of the next EU elections, and secures a strong legitimacy to Parliament’s members in the upcoming first trilateral talk with the Council and the Commission.
The mandate supported by the EP in the forthcoming discussions, strenghtens substantially the draft Directive proposed last April by the Commission. In particular, it aims to extend the scope of the Directive to all actors in the chain, regardless of size, in order to avoid the cascading effects of an overly restrictive approach limited to small and medium-sized enterprises. It is relevant to note that, it also includes a definition of Unfair Trade Practices, which would give the future Directive the necessary flexibility to incorporate new practices that may arise.
Furthermore, the EP proposes to extend the list of UTPs to be outlawed for example by including payments made later than 30 days for perishable agricultural and food products and later than 60 days for non-perishable products, counting from the last day of the month when the invoice was received or the agreed delivery day. In addition, a deadline for unilateral cancellation of an order concerning perishable products less than 60 days from the already agreed delivery date has been included.
All these proposals, along with additional aspects – thus concrete measures – such as for instance, (i) the possibility to extend the definition of buyer to all types of buyers (including virtual retailers), (ii) the adoption of written contracts with the aim to better apply the Directive and give legal certainty to all operators, (iii) the harmonization among procedures of complaints in terms of necessary powers of national authorities – are needed in a view of structuring a strong and balanced food chain, able to share all the value added generated across it under fair conditions, able to reinforce the position of producers as being the most vulnerable link, and last but not least, capable of generating value up to the consumer.