As signalled by the Tánaiste, the intention is to implement a national Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector with a view to ensuring a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers. The code will be initially on a voluntary basis.
The EU Commission has also issued a Communication on a better functioning food supply chain in Europe. As I said at the recent Council of Minister's meeting, I believe there is also a need to look critically at EU competition law (or its interpretation) in so far as it can serve to militate against consolidation at producer level to achieve the scale necessary for optimum efficiency and international competitiveness. There is a need also to audit unfair contractual practices with a view to ensuring compliance with competition law. I am very pleased that the Spanish Presidency had committed itself to progressing the whole issue of improving the functioning of the food chain. There is a need for considerable improvement so that all players, including producers and consumers, receive fair treatment.