Commission passes on hot potato of Unfair Trading Practices

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The European Commission has missed the chance today to push for a level playing-field and robust enforcement mechanism on Unfair Trading Practices. Instead, it calls on industry and EU Member States to take action and delays its decision to end 2015. The Fair Trade movement regrets the negative impact this non-decision will have on workers and farmers supplying the EU market.

The European Commission issued today a Communication Tackling unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food supply chain as a follow-up to the Green Paper on Unfair Trading Practices of 31 January 2013 . In this policy document, the European Commission has decided, for the moment, neither to legislate nor to put in place a robust enforcement mechanism against Unfair Trading Practices.

The Fair Trade Movement is satisfied that the European Commission recognises that Unfair Trading Practices have a negative impact on “weaker parties in third countries, including in developing countries" and the existing “fear factor” amongst suppliers. It is also satisfied that the Commission realises that the “Voluntary Supply Chain” initiative, set up by a number of industry trade associations, does not guarantee sufficient confidentiality for suppliers and that, without independent enforcement mechanism, the initiative is not sufficient to be effective.

In light of the pertinent analysis by the European Commission services, the Fair Trade movement is therefore all the more disappointed by the lack of political courage to put in place a level-playing field on Unfair Trading Practices and a robust enforcement mechanism at EU level, which would be the logical consequence of the serious issues identified by the Commission services.

Over 43,000 signers from Europe and Latin America had called earlier this year on the European Commission to put in place a robust EU enforcement mechanism against the abuse of power in supply chains . Unfair Trading Practices affect millions of producers in and outside of the EU but also the quality and range of the food which we are able to buy in Europe. The failure to act by the EC will result in a continuation and increase of short-notice forced overtime being required of farmers and workers as well as poverty incomes on precarious contracts. It will also continue creating food waste.

Read full press release below.

Source: Fair Trade Advocacy Office