MEPs vote in favour of legislation to tackle unfair trading practices

The Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament has voted in favour of legislation to tackle unfair trading practices (UTPs) and introduce fairness into the food supply chain.

Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament has said it’s important step on the road to tackling intractable issues in the food supply chain.

The MEP was rapporteur for the report which was approved by 39 votes in favour, with two abstentions.

It will now go forward to the Internal Market committee. McGuinness said that MEPs must now ensure that the Commission takes the report on board in its upcoming assessment of the voluntary Supply Chain Initiative, which while welcome is insufficient.

It highlights the impact of unfair trading practices on farm incomes, as well as on the sustainability of the food supply chain.

“I have been working on this issue for a number of years and I’m heartened that across the political groups in the Committee there is a clear understanding of the damage caused by unfair trading practices and a clear demand for Commission action,” she said.

The vote also called for further actions to boost farmers’ bargaining power and demanded better coordination at EU level of Member States’ efforts to tackle UTPs.

McGuinness reiterated her position that voluntary endeavours, including the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI), are inadequate in eliminating the fear factor from the supply chain.

They have major drawbacks, including a lack of genuine penalties for non-compliance, she said.

The Agriculture Committee also urged the Commission to table, in a timely manner, a proposal for the framework legislation.

New EU law and further actions to increase the bargaining power of farmers should complement the SCI and other voluntary initiatives, which should also be updated to allow anonymous complaints, according to MEPs opinion.

However, it notes that new EU-wide measures must not lower the level of protection in Member States that have already adopted national legislation to combat business-to-business UTPs, MEPs have said.

They also want an appropriate range of sanctions for those who violate the anti-UTP rules.