EuroCommerce hits back at EU report

16 Nov 2016

EuroCommerce has issued a statement following the conclusions drawn by the EU Agricultural Markets Task Force that legislation was required to better protect farmers and other food producers.

EuroCommerce hits back at EU report

EuroCommerce, the organisation that describes itself as the voice for six million retail, wholesale, and other trading companies, has issued a statement following the conclusions drawn by the EU Agricultural Markets Task Force that legislation was required to better protect farmers and other food producers.

“We supported Commissioner Hogan’s establishment of the Agricultural Markets Task Force, whose report was issued today. Retailers understand the difficulties faced by a number of farmers today. Europe needs an agricultural sector firmly rooted in an open market economy, able to be more responsive to market signals and ever-changing consumer demand. We can therefore support many of the recommendations from the task force aimed at, for instance greater encouragement of producer organisations, use of risk management tools and contractualisation.

This is an important report dealing with important issues. It is therefore regrettable that where dealing with trading practices, the Task Force has succumbed to political pressure and included demands for EU legislative action on practices which have not been identified as problematic in Commission reports on the food supply chain over the past 8 years. These recommendations unfortunately reflect a poor understanding of how the supply chain and normal commercial practice work.”

“EU-level legislation will not provide a practicable solution to the problems facing farmers and other parts of the supply chain,” said Christian Verschueren, Director General of EuroCommerce. “Today, agriculture needs to be better organised and be more responsive to market signals and consumer demand. Regulating trading practices at EU level is mere gesture politics and will do nothing to help farmers’ income. We ask the Commission to help create a new, constructive dialogue with farmers to address these issues.”

“As the Commission concluded in its report on the Supply Chain Initiative in January, national law is already in place in a vast majority of member states, and provides mechanisms for redress and sanctions. The Commission report found no significant evidence of the need for regulatory action on trading practices at EU level.”

“National commercial practice and contract law vary substantially across Europe,” said Verschueren. “If there was ever an argument for applying subsidiarity, it surely applies here.”

“We too are against unfair trading practices: we call upon the Commission to encourage all sectors, including farmers, to take part as a matter of urgency in a constructive dialogue which can benefit all parts of the supply chain. The Supply Chain Initiative does not seek to replace national legislation, but complements it by offering a common understanding of what is fair practice and encourages operators to resolve issues in a constructive manner aimed at continuing the business relationship. We await the Commission response to the report with great interest and are sure that they will want to apply the better regulation principles that they have committed to in considering how best to address these complex issues.”