Unfair practices in the agri-food chain: there is an EU agreement

Unfair practices in the agri-food chain: there is an EU agreement

The European Parliament, the Council and the EU Commission have reached an institutional agreement regarding the European Directive against unfair commercial practices in the agri-food chain. After several attempts, an EU agreement was reached, in particular on the minimum threshold for the implementation of the Directive, originally established at 50 million in annual turnover, while the compromise found would guarantee protection for companies up to 350 million in annual turnover. The Directive requires Member States to prohibit, in the agri-food chain, commercial practices deemed “unfair” (unfair and immoral), such as last-minute cancellation of orders, delays in payments to suppliers, unilateral changes to contracts, missed payments to suppliers for unsold goods. Furthermore, the new rules must also be complied with by purchasers of food products that have their registered office in third countries, to avoid triangulation of distribution centers that have their registered offices in non-EU states.

The institutional compromise reached on banning unfair commercial practices in the agri-food sector will be validated by the Plenary Assembly and the EU Council of Ministers. The green light will arrive before the end of the current European legislature, next May. The long and complex institutional negotiations to defend the rights of suppliers of agri-food products to large-scale retail trade have therefore made it possible to multiply by seven (compared to the initial proposal of the EU Commission) the minimum threshold within which farmers and the European industry can be protected. by the new Directive. This minimum threshold can still be raised nationally.

It should be remembered that future EU rules will apply to all food products and also to all agricultural products, including nursery gardening, animal feed, tobacco and cotton, the latter initially excluded. The relationship between the suppliers of agri-food products with the buyers of the distribution is further strengthened with the obligation to sign written contracts between the parties. In the event of non-compliance with the rights, the individual or association of producers will be reported in complete anonymity. The agreement, which after years of failed attempts, was this time reached after just eight months of negotiations since the presentation of the proposal by the European Commission, also provides for a four-year revision clause.

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