Unfair commercial practices in the food chain and competition rules in the agri sector – what’s new?

On December 12th, the ministers of agriculture have adopted important conclusions on one of the hottest current european topic for the agriculture sector, i.e. “Strengthening farmers’ position in the food supply chain and tackling unfair trading practices (UTPs)”. Following several resolutions of the European Parliament on this subject and the recent report from the Agricultural Market Task Force (AMTF), the member states have stated their priorities by calling the European Commission to, notably:

  • Remedy the lack of transparency and information asymmetry in all levels of the food supply chain;
  • Undertake an impact assessment with a view to proposing an EU legislative framework or other non-legislative measures to fight against UTPs;
  • And, more importantly, to provide legal clarity for a better understanding and use of agriculture-specific derogations from competition law by POs.

These last recommendations are also echoed in the newly adopted resolution of the European Parliament on price volatility (December 14th) where MEPs call on the Commission to align EU competition policy with the specific needs of the agricultural sector and boost farmers’ negotiating power in the food supply chain by introducing standard, transparent, balanced and collectively negotiated contracts laying down inter alia prices for products and payment periods.

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