The European Commission has published the first report on the application of competition rules in the agricultural sector. The report shows that the work of European competition authorities can help farmers to obtain better conditions when selling their products to large buyers or cooperatives.
Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: "This report provides key insights into the valuable work that European competition authorities have been doing in the agricultural sector, especially in protecting farmers from anti-competitive behaviour and ensuring farmers and consumers can benefit from a fully open internal market. We will continue the work together with the national competition authorities".
Phil Hogan, Commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said: "Strengthening the position of the farmer in the food supply chain, in a market oriented policy context, is of utmost importance. This report highlights how agricultural law and competition law go hand-in-hand in achieving fairer and more efficient outcomes for both producers and consumers. Let us not forget that farmers have a special place insofar as competition law is concerned. Recognised producer organisations can help them strengthen their position in the food supply chain".
EU competition rules that prohibit agreements on setting prices or other trading conditions, or on sharing of markets apply to the production and trade of agricultural products. However, the Common Market Organisation Regulation contains derogations from the application of these rules, which affect all or some agricultural sectors or deal with specific situations.
The report published by the Commission is the first focusing specifically on the application of EU competition rules to the agricultural sector.
On the basis of the insights gained from the report, the Commission will continue its dialogue with stakeholders in the agricultural sector, as well as with Member States, the European Parliament and the Council, on future policy choices concerning the application of competition rules to the agricultural sector. The Commission will also intensify its monitoring of the market, in particular as regards collective agreements that segment the internal market.