Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (42)

Dara Calleary

Question:

42. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there have been any discussions at the EU Agriculture Council of Ministers meetings in relation to the terms and conditions being imposed by the large supermarket chains on food processors and producers; the nature of these discussions; the decision taken by the Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55988/12]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Presidency Conclusions of the Council on 29 March 2010 invited the Commission to explore ways of favouring a proportionate balance of bargaining power between stakeholders in the food supply chain and underlined the necessity for the Commission in cooperation with member States to identify and combat unfair trading practices and to put in place stricter controls and easier reporting procedures to eliminate such practices in the food supply chain. The Conclusions supported the idea of establishing a Forum to address the relationships between the players in the food supply chain.

In response the European Commission established a High Level Forum and a business-to-business Expert Platform to make recommendations on eliminating unfair practices. During 2011 the Platform agreed on a list of general and specific principles of good practice as well as relevant best practices in commercial relations. These were endorsed by the Forum and the Commission requested the Platform to identify possible actions taking into account the positions expressed by Council and the European Parliament. The Expert Platform made progress in 2012 but did not reach agreement on the form of implementing arrangements and whether there should be statutory provision. At the Forum meeting on 5 December the Commission indicated that it will now adopt a green paper on unfair trading practices in the retail supply chain which will involve a horizontal cross-sector approach. The Commission is also contracting a study on legal frameworks in Member States that seek to address unfair trading practices and is considering launching an impact assessment on different options including a legislative initiative in this field, taking into account the advice of national authorities and of all the relevant stakeholders. This will in due course be reviewed by Council.