New EU retail rules will protect farmers, even after Brexit

Anthea McIntyre is Conservative Party agriculture spokesman in Brussels. She recently highlighted an agreement between the European institutions on a new directive to curb unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the agriculture and food supply chain, which was confirmed by the European parliament’s Agriculture Committee last week.

During the deal's drafting process, Miss McIntyre encouraged EU legislators to follow the model of the UK’s Groceries Supply Code of Practice which protects farmers in their dealings with the top 12 biggest supermarkets.

She told the committee: “I have been proud to see the Commission and the parliament use the UK’s Code of Practice GSCOP as one of the bases for this legislation. The EU has recognised the UK as a good example and a leader in combating unfair trading practices.”

“Most importantly, the Directive covers suppliers who are outside the EU supplying buyers inside the EU. This ensures that even when the UK leaves the EU our farmers and growers will be protected when trading with our European partners.”

The Directive represents a 'minimum harmonisation', which means that member states may go further to protect their farmers and growers if they choose.

The unfair trading practices that are outlawed are:

  • The non-respect of a 60-day payment term for non-perishable products;
  • Payment for services not provided;
  • Buyer refusal to provide a written contract on request;
  • Misuse of supplier’s confidential information by the buyer;
  • Commercial retaliation or even the threat of such retaliation if the supplier makes use of the rights guaranteed;
  • Payment by the supplier for the examination of customer complaints which are not due to the negligence of the supplier;
  • Payment delays for perishable products (over 30 days);
  • Unilateral and retroactive changes to supply agreements;
  • Cancellation of orders for perishable products with short notice;
  • Payment for the deterioration of products already sold and delivered to the buyer.


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