A recent vote by the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament in favour of legislation to tackle unfair trading practices (UTPs) and introduce fairness into the food supply chain, has been described as an important step on the road to tackling intractable issues in the food supply chain by Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
The MEP was the lead author of the report which was approved by 39 votes in favour, with two abstentions. It will now go forward to the Internal Market committee.
"We now must ensure that the Commission takes our report on board in its upcoming assessment of the voluntary Supply Chain Initiative, which while welcome is insufficient,” she said.
“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," Ms McGuinness added.
The vote also calls for further actions to boost farmers' bargaining power and demanded better coordination at EU level of member states' efforts to tackle UTPs.
Ms 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. And this position is part of today’s approved text.
The Agriculture committee today 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 today’ 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 say. They also want an appropriate range of sanctions for those who violate the anti-UTP rules.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 216 Members from 27 Member States