The European Commission has today opened infringement procedures against Malta 12 Member States for failing to transpose EU rules banning unfair trading practices in the agri-food sector. The Directive on unfair trading practices in the agricultural and food supply chain, adopted on 17 April 2019, ensures protection of all European farmers, as well as of small and mid-range suppliers, against 16 unfair trading practices from larger buyers in the food supply chain. The Directive covers agricultural and food products traded in the supply chain, banning for the first time at EU level such unfair practices imposed unilaterally by one trading partner on another.
The deadline for transposing the Directive into national legislation was 1 May 2021. Malta, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovakia, and Sweden notified the Commission that they adopted all necessary measures for transposing the Directive, thus declaring the transposition complete. France and Estonia have informed that their legislation transposes only partially the Directive.
The Commission sent letters of formal notice to Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain requesting them to adopt and notify the relevant measures. The Member States have now two months to reply.
This Directive on unfair trading practices in the agricultural and food supply chain contributes to strengthening the farmers’ position in the food supply chain. The 16 unfair trading practices to be banned include, among others: (i) late payments and last minute order cancellations for perishable food products; (ii) unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts; (iii) forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products; and (iv) refusing written contracts.
In line with the Directive, farmers and small and medium sized suppliers, as well as the organisations representing them, will have the possibility to file complaints against such practices from their buyers. Member States should put in place designated national authorities that will handle the complaints. Confidentiality is protected under these rules to avoid any possible retaliation from buyers.
The Commission has also taken steps to increase market transparency and promote producer cooperation. Together, these measures will ensure a more balanced, fair and efficient supply chain in the agri-food sector.