Copa-Cogeca has said a much more ambitious and stronger approach than was proposed by the European Commission this week, is needed to tackle Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food chain.

“The harmful impact of unfair practices on farmers and agri-cooperatives is all too clear. I am glad that the Commission acknowledges that we need to look at ways to protect producers and cooperatives from these. But I am very disappointed at the lack of ambition in the Communication,” said Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen.

He went on to say that measures capable of curbing UTPs across the EU and preventing a fragmentation of the Single Market are needed. “In view of the different and sometimes diverging approaches to this problem in Member States, it is unacceptable that the Commission, recognising the possible impact of UTPs on cross-border trade, does not assume its responsibilities and propose measures to create an EU-wide level playing field that enables the Single Market to work better.”

Pesonen said that the Commissions communication does not provide tools for Member States to ensure that the rules are properly enforced. “Relying solely on a purely voluntary system, as suggested in this Communication, to deal with unfair trading practices does not provide farmers or cooperatives the conditions that they urgently need to make their complaints anonymously and reduce the fear that they have of retaliatory action by their clients.”

Copa-Cogeca says it remains open to dialogue and is willing to consider any proposals that deal with our concerns. Pesonen went on to say that farmers and agri-cooperatives want to be able to expand their businesses and prosper in the food supply chain. “They want to work with their supply chain partners in a spirit of fairness for everyone, not in a climate of fear. Farmers and their agri-cooperatives work hard to produce safe and nutritious food. European Consumers deserve nothing less. This must be respected.”