EU Taskforce To Examine Producer-Consumer Price Gap

17 February 2009
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Tuesday) described the outcome of a marathon three hour voting session in the committee as a lot of effort with little to show for it.

The key outcome of note was a vote on a report on the gap between producer and consumer prices, authored by Greek Socialist Katerina Batzeli, which calls for the establishment of an EU taskforce to look into the operation of the food supply chain in the EU market. Another report approved the introduction of an EU-wide organic label. Both proposals will now move to the European Commission for implementation.

Speaking after the meeting, Smith said:

"This was another heavy session in the Committee, with 570 individual votes but largely on subjects of little controversy. The Batzeli report in particular promised much but the eventual headline measure, the establishment of a taskforce to look into the gap producers receive and consumers pay, will sound depressingly familiar. I will be pushing the Commission to put some vigour into this investigation, because this ground has very much been covered before and it is increasingly clear that the operation of the EU food chain does not work in the interests of our producers.

"I remain attracted by the idea of a supermarket ombudsman, a consumer and producer champion to keep an eye on pricing and market tactics of the supermarkets. We continue to hear reports from our producers of practices which, while perhaps not illegal in themselves, all mitigate against the long-term interests of our producers. So perhaps something useful will come from this report after all.

"The session was as much a clearing the decks meeting as anything else, with most of the controversial dossiers now past us and our calendar becoming clearer as we look towards the European elections in June."

A BREAKDOWN OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE THREE MAIN REPORTS IS BELOW:

Batzeli Report on Food Prices (INI)

* This Report passed 33-4; SNP voted yes. The more extreme pro-free market pro-supermarket amendments were defeated.

* A task force on the food supply chain was supported.

* Non-trade concerns should be included in the WTO talks.

* Commission should support the activities of producer organisations.

* Regulation on the retail trade should converge and be centrally coordinated at EU level - not so good.

 

Petre Report on Food Quality (INI)

* The SNP passed an amendment which supports the principle of an EU organic label.

* An amendment on the mandatory country of origin label was passed.

* EU quality standards need to be laid down to importers at the WTO.

* Sales promotion programmes for local markets (Green amendment).

* Reverse tendering practices must be regulated.

* Community should have a limited role in creation of marks - producers should take the initiative.

* European system of marketing standards not supported.

* An attempt to ban bendy fruit from the market defeated.

* Special EU quality label defeated - not good.

* Rules on PDOs should be enforced.

* European Office for Product Quality should be established.

* Need legislative proposal which would label food products produced with GM feed (Green).

* Compulsory country or origin label for imports of fresh and unprocessed organic products.

* This Report passed 28-8; SNP voted yes.

 

Corda Opinion on Food Information for Consumers (COD, for ENVI)

* All Scotch Whisky Association amendments passed.

* Common positive nutrition symbol supported.

* An amendment on place of origin for meat labelling defeated - not good.

* This Opinion passed 28-0; SNP voted yes.