Directive on unfair trading must be passed before Christmas to save small farmers- EU council
Time is running out for the directive on unfair trading practices to be approved by the EU Parliament in time for Christmas, the EU council has warned.
Time is running out for the directive on unfair trading practices to be approved by the EU Parliament in time for Christmas, the EU Council has warned.
Agriculture MEPs voted through amendments to the draft law in October that would extend the rules to all suppliers and buyers, regardless of size, and to agricultural products other than food.
They also added to the list of unfair trading practices (UTPs) by including a 60-day payment deadline for orders of non-perishable goods, a 60-day notice period for cancelling an order of perishable goods and a ban on below-cost sales by retailers, unless agreed in advance.
Elisabeth Köstinger, Austrian Federal Minister for Sustainability and Tourism and President of the EU Council stated at a press conference on Monday that the EU council is keen for the directive to just include farmers and not big businesses.
“Farmers are supposed to receive better instruments to combat delayed payments and situations where one side changes the contracts. We want to have a fair system for farmers. Farmers should be rewarded for quality produce,” she said.
“We hope to have the directive wrapped up by end of the year and hope that the Parliament will go along with this. It’s high time to provide better protection for farmers against unfair trading practices and together we want to focus on small scale farmers.
“It’s not about companies who produce billions but small family businesses. In the coming days we will do everything we can to help them.”
She urged that the EU Parliament pass the directive tomorrow, Wednesday (19) as their may not be apt time to do so in the new year in the run up to EU elections in May.
“It’s not about companies who produce billions but small family businesses. In the coming days we will do everything we can to help them.
“We hope we can finalise things. It’s an important subject and time is running out. We hope to do everything we can. It will be tight to squeeze things in before the EU election in May, lets move together in the interests of farmers”
Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan added that “every possible effort” needs to be made to protect farmers.
There are 20 member states that have rules on unfair trading practices, including the UK, where a groceries code adjudicator hears complaints by suppliers and retailers over unfair contract terms.
Under the draft law, EU countries would set up a watchdog that can impose sanctions on producers or retailers that break the rules.
Parliament’s lead negotiator on the draft, Italian socialist MEP Paolo De Castro, said he and his colleagues had been put under pressure by the supermarket lobby to kill the legislation.
Farmers’ representatives staged a protest in Strasbourg last month in support of the legislation.
Last week the IFA protested against what it claimed were unfair trading practices and below cost selling of vegetables at a Marks and Spencer store in Liffey Valley in Dublin.
IFA President Joe Healy said, “It’s been a very tough year on producers, with significant extra costs because of the late Spring and the drought conditions during the summer. Reducing the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg sends a very misleading message to consumers regarding the costs, risks and skills associated with this sector.”