A summary of the debate is now available.
EP AGRI Committee Meeting – 16 May 2018
11. Unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain
– Exchange of views
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The Rapporteur Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) made the following introductory remarks
- the legislative proposal was the result of 9 years negotiations and had to be seen in the context of the Omnibus regulation;
- the EP had to be more ambitious and had to start by broadening the scope of the Directive ;
- the timeframe also had to be more specific in order to allow national authorities to give their specific answer;
- the scope of the definition of unfair practices also had to be broadened;
- he urged the Committee to work swiftly in order to present a report to the AGRI Committee by the 10th of July;
- he hoped to vote in the Committee in September and bring the text to Plenary by October.
Interventions by Shadow Rapporteurs followed
Mairead McGuinness (EPP, IE)
- she reiterated that it took a long time to have a proposal so a swift process should be ensured;
- she was worried about the dispute with the IMCO Committee. During the Conference of the Presidents, IMCO wanted to be Associated Committee and not just the Committee for Opinion, so the situation was still unclear. She did not want this to affect the timeline of the negotiations.
Anthea McIntyre (ECR, UK)
- she stressed that the remit of Directive was within the AGRI ‘s competences;
- she would like to ensure a swift process in order to include the UK in it;
- 95% of the agri-food business and the farmers supported the proposal. The only sector that did not give support was the retail.
Maria Heubuch (Greens/EFA, DE)
- the report was welcomed but it was missing some references to infringements to competition law.
Marco Zullo (EFDD, IT)
- the report was the result of good cooperation between the Commission and the Parliament and it was crucial for the citizens;
- he hoped that the proposal would increase transparency in the sector;
- however the proposal had a lack of general definition of UTP, which was a limitation. A second aspect concerned the scope, which in his view should not be limited to the EU but it should also take into account third countries as there were a lot of multinationals distributing in Europe.
Elsi Katainen (ALDE, FI)
- harmonising the rules at the EU level was important but the MS should be given sufficient flexibility to come up with their own strategy.
Interventions by Members followed
Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL, IE)
- in his view the current proposal did not provide enough guarantees to protect those farmers in a weaker situation;
- retailers had been quiet about the proposal and he had the impression that they were not particularly worried about it;
- he hoped that the Committee would be up for the challenge.
Eric Andrieu (S&D, FR)
- the whole food sector had to be included in the report therefore he supported the broadening of the scope of the Directive;
- subcontracts in the agri-food sector had also to be included in the report.
John Stuart Agnew (EFDD, UK)
- the proposal was too ambitious. He warned against food retailers’ retaliation;
- the UK had already been addressing the problem and he was worried that EU interference would spoil the process of succeeding.
Annie Schreijer-Pierik (EPP, NL)
- retailers had at their disposal funds that can benefit their enterprises whilst that was not the case for farmers. Such imbalances had to be taken into account;
- the IMCO Committee had to be taken into account and its contribution was very important.
Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL, IE)
- a Directive would not help the situation. The only way to make the difference would be through a Regulation (as it happened for the end of roaming).
A representative from the European Commission made the following remarks
- he was glad that the Committee was on board as it took 14 years to come up with a Proposal. He thanked the Committee for their resolution in June 2015, which gave the necessary impetus to come up with a Proposal. The EESC also provided the Commission with lots of support;
- he reiterated that SMEs were the target of the legislation and that third country suppliers would also be considered;
- MS could go beyond if they wanted to and they had a certain margin of discretion.
Source: One Policy Place