The Bundesrat

Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain

Scrutiny details

Subsidiarity deadline: 15/06/2018
Scrutiny Information

Scrutiny date: 08/06/2018

Subsidiarity Concern:

No Important information to exchange

No Veto

Information on parliamentary scrutiny

Referred to Committees on:

European Union Questions

Agricultural Policy and Consumer Protection
Legal Affairs

Economic Affairs

Lisbon Treaty procedures
  Political Dialogue

08/06/2018 | Scrutiny results - COM20180173

The Bundesrat welcomes the Commission’s proposal on unfair trading practices which it deems a valuable contribution to fundamentally improving the position of the agricultural sector in the food supply chain. Some of the proposed measures, however, present an interference with the freedom of contract, and, hence, should only be possible when absolutely necessary. The Bundesrat consents with the Commission’s assessment that smaller actors and, in particular, agricultural producers, due to their weaker negotiating positions and lack of alternatives, are often subject to unfair trading practices. The current EU-wide debate may serve as a  basis to create awareness of the necessity for the industry’s voluntary initiatives like the “Supply Chain Initiative” (SCI) and incentivize a real change of culture with regard to unfair trading practices – which do not only affect SMEs. Agricultural producers, and there organizations, above the SME threshold may find themselves in similar, inferior negotiating positions, as well. This applies, for example to the many private and cooperative associations in the dairy sector. The Bundesrat therefore proposes to extend the scope of the proposed directive to non-SME suppliers. Instead of tying applicability to the criterion of SME, market power should be relevant.

The element “perishable food products” is too vague and needs further substantiation. The same is true for “wastage of food products” (Article 3, para. 1 d)) as “wastage” is vague and evaluative. The justification of unfair trading practices, according to Art. 3 para. 2 is supposed to be possible in the event of “clear and unambiguous terms”. This is insufficient, as, in the case of dependence between supplier and seller, the terms may be dictated by the buyer. The proposal should therefore include a provision under which trading practices may be examined on a case-by-case basis regarding whether they are unfair and whether they are justified. It is incomprehensible to the Bundesrat that a complaint mechanism  exists solely for producer organizations, as it should be available to suppliers and sellers, as well.

Contact points for EU matters

IPEX Correspondents:
Phone: +49 (0) 301 891 00 471  Email Mr. Michael Hoessl
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