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UTPs directive - from balanced proposal to witch hunt?

01 October 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 01 October 2018

Speaking after the vote in the European Parliament AGRI committee this evening, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren warned that the debate and vote in the Parliament has moved the discussion towards a witch hunt against retailers and wholesalers:


"The Commission put forward a proposal aimed at protecting farmers and SME processors. In the course of parliamentary discussions, driven by slogans such as 'Fairness for all', the directive as amended protects big food multinationals, and the debate has turned into a targeted and direct attack on legitimate negotiations between retailers and suppliers".

The series of amendments pushed through the Parliament AGRI committee tonight and in the IMCO committee last week will do nothing for fairness in the supply chain. By imposing more restrictions on retailers and their ability to provide services, it will make it more difficult for retailers to negotiate the better prices they pass on to consumers, in particular when negotiating with large suppliers. Farmers will gain nothing from legislation allowing large multinational brands to impose higher prices on retailers and consumers. As the Chief Economist of DG Competition told the committee last week, a large multinational getting a higher price for an ice cream will not feed back to the milk farmer, and the milk may not even be sourced in the EU.

Verschueren concluded: "As voted today, the directive will end up making the strongest players in the market even stronger and the weaker players - farmers, SMEs, and consumers - even weaker. A witch hunt against retail and wholesale to line the pockets of multinational shareholders and do nothing for farmers is surely not what this directive should be about."

Another important point is that the directive gives rights to sellers, but none to buyers. This approach puts into question some of the fundamental principles of the EU on equality of treatment and respect of legal base. In a letter to the Presidency, 22 retail and wholesale CEOs, asked for an opinion on the legality of these changes.

EuroCommerce is the voice for six million retail, wholesale, and other trading companies. Its members include national commerce federations in 31 countries, Europe's 27 leading retail and wholesale companies, and federations representing specific sectors of commerce.

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