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.
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.