The EU bets on farmers

Deferment of payments, cancellation of orders at the last moment, unilateral changes in terms of contracts – these and other practices that are applied by representatives of supermarket chains to EU suppliers of products and should be prohibited. Such a bill was presented by the European Commission last week, writes Agro-Center.

“The basis of our proposal is honesty in cooperation. Unfair commercial practices are contrary to the principle of honesty,” said the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, at a press conference in Brussels.

At the heart of the new bill are proposals aimed at strengthening the position of small and medium-sized businesses, producers and farmers. According to the EC draft law, the buyer is not entitled to charge a supplier for short-term food products:

“Thus, we want to protect the most vulnerable parts of the food supply chain and strengthen it,” said Phil Hogan.

The Directive proposed by the EC obliges all Member States to appoint a body responsible for putting into effect the principles of this legislation. This body should have the power to make requests on the basis of a complaint or on its own initiative, to impose financial penalties and to take enforcement decisions. For example, in Poland, the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has the right to initiate investigations into unfair practices in relation to farmers.

“It should be noted that more than 20 EU countries have already implemented similar decisions and this directive will become a significant addition to them. In this way, we want to give the EU farmers more rights and fewer obligations,” said Cheslav Sierski, chairman of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee.

However, according to the specialist, cooperation between suppliers and retail networks, above all, requires dialogue, because supermarkets can always find a way to bypass the rules, for example, at the expense of intermediaries between themselves and the farmer.

Phil Hogan hopes the bill will be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council. Deputies of the Commission on Agriculture have already expressed their positive attitude to these decisions. The next step in strengthening the supply chain in the EU will be the price transparency initiative. The EU Commission should present this bill in 2018.

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