Eerder schreef ik hier over de Nederlandse implementatie van de Europese regels ter bestrijding van oneerlijke handelspraktijken van het grootbedrijf in de landbouw- en voedselvoorzieningsketen. Dergelijke regels zijn ook buiten de landbouw gewenst, schreef ik toen.
Over de Europese regels verscheen onlangs een bericht op de site van European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), het onderzoeksbureau van het Europees parlement, waarin zij toelichting geven op de achtergrond van de regels:
The food supply chain ensures that food and drink products are delivered to the public. It affects all consumers in the EU. The final price paid by the consumer is impacted by the number of participants in the food supply chain. While the single market has brought benefits to operators in the supply chain, through more market opportunities and a larger customer base, it has also brought challenges. Structural changes have occurred, leading to different levels of bargaining power and imbalances between actors in the chain. The abuse of such differences may lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).
Over recent years, the European Parliament has actively highlighted imbalances in the food supply chain. It has also made the case very strongly that there is a need to ensure adequate incomes for farmers.
To strengthen the position of smaller producers (such as farmers) in the food supply chain, in April 2018 the European Commission presented a proposal for a directive on unfair trading practices. The proposal focuses on the protection of smaller actors in the food supply chain, and aims to protect them from trading practices imposed unilaterally.
The Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) welcomed the proposal as a long-expected legislative instrument to defend the position of agricultural producers in the food supply chain. Following AGRI’s consideration, the European Parliament priorities were to have a clear definition of what constituted an unfair trading practice, extending the scope of suppliers and buyers in the food supply chain and the scope of products to all agricultural products (i.e. not only food products). The Parliament also sought to deliver an increased list of prohibited unfair trading practices. In trilogue negotiations, Parliament and Council negotiators reached an agreement on 19 December 2018, after six meetings. Parliament’s negotiating team achieved important modifications to the legislative text, especially on widening the scope to agri-food businesses bigger than SMEs (up to a certain threshold) and an extension to the list of prohibited unfair trading practices from 8 to 15.
Directive (EU) 2019/633 of the European Parliament and of the Council on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain was signed on 17 April 2019.
Thanks in part to Parliament’s efforts, the new legislation will ensure fairness in the market and the food supply chain and will remove the ‘fear factor’ experienced by small-scale operators in the food chain and/or those with less bargaining power. It will lead to a more balanced distribution of consumer spending along the food supply chain and, finally, it will provide for a designated authority to enforce the new rules and sanctions where infringements are proven.
De Europese Commissie noemt op de themapagina als oneerlijke praktijken ten opzichte van MKB-leveranciers onder meer:
These include (but are not limited to)
- late payments for perishable food products
- last minute order cancellations
- unilateral changes to contracts
- refusal to enter into a written contract
- returning unsold or wasted products
- payment for buyer’s marketing
Uiteraard zal bezien moeten worden of de nieuwe regels praktisch uitvoerbaar zijn en of voldoende toezicht op de naleving wordt uitgeoefend. Het is in ieder geval interessant om te volgen.
- Bericht EPRS van 2 augustus 2019; Protection of small producers against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain
- Bericht EPRS van 30 mei 2019, The power of the European Parliament: Examples of EP impact during the 2014-19 legislative term, met verwijzing naar een Engelstalig rapport, waarin de regelgeving ter bestrijding van oneerlijke praktijken door het grootbedrijf op pagina 4 wordt besproken.
- Europese Commissie, pagina Unfair trading practices in the food chain.
- EPRS briefing Europees parlement, Unfair trading practices in the food supply chain (pdf), mei 2019.
- Berichten op dit blog over oneerlijke handelspraktijken van het grootbedrijf.