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Lack of agreement in the EU on rules to enforce principles of good practice along Food Chain

"An agreement would have helped in combating unfair and abusive practices in the food chain", laments Copa-Cogeca

Copa-Cogeca expresses its disappointment about the lack of an agreement between EU stakeholders - from farmers, agri-cooperatives, traders, food industry, to retailers - on implementation and enforcement of a code of good practice along the food supply chain. "An agreement would have helped in combating unfair and abusive practices in the food chain", they lament

19-11-2012 by Copa-Cogeca

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Such unfair commercial practices include cases where contracting parties refuse to put essential terms in writing in agreements or unilateral retrospective changes to contract clauses. Copa-Cogeca has been working hard with the European Commission and all actors along the food chain to strike a fair and balanced deal which ensured rules are properly enforced and disputes solved when principles are not applied. This is more important than ever given the huge imbalance of power in the food chain and farmers’ dwindling returns

 

Last Summer, when no agreement was reached between stakeholders on the proposed Framework for Implementation and Enforcement of the principles of Good Practice, Copa-Cogeca outlined serious shortcomings which had to be addressed. These included the dispute settlement scheme which did not provide a guarantee of anonymity of complainants that would put suppliers out of reach of retaliatory action from their clients. The same scheme failed to include sanctions and compensation to the plaintiff if principles were not applied. Monitoring of the uptake of companies adhering to the system was also too loose to measure the real uptake of the framework. There was no indication of the minimum critical mass needed to guarantee success of the system. In addition, performance indicators were not clearly detailed .

Copa-Cogecas Working Party on the Food Chain worked hard to propose precise amendments to strengthen the proposals and to get an agreement between EU stakeholders. But despite months of wrangling, there were still areas where significant differences in positions existed amongst stakeholders. Speaking in Brussels, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said "I am seriously disppointed that talks broke down and no agreement was reached. We want an end to threatening behaviour from contracting parties in favour of fair contract terms in the food chain.But in view of the huge differences, this could not be achieved. We call upon the European Commission to pursue a route leading to legislation that sets the foundations to an EU approach to voluntary codes".