SNP MEP and member of the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today welcomed the announcement of a European Commission impact assessment in order to evaluate all possible options, including a legislative proposal, for tackling unfair trading practices in the food chain.
In a joint move by the Commissioners for industry and entrepreneurship, internal market, health and consumer policy and agriculture, the Commission states that it wishes to "achieve clarity on the way forward by the autumn of next year in order to support competitiveness in the European agri-food supply chain." In the coming weeks, the Commission will adopt a green paper on unfair trading practices in business-to-business settings with the aim of launching a public debate on possible actions. Simultaneously, a study will be carried out to map current legal frameworks that seek to address unfair trading practices in all EU Member States.
"This is good news. I am relieved to see the Commission finally heeding calls to tackle this issue with real effort, rather than just using sticking plaster measures here and there.
"Time and again, many of the issues we are discussing in the Parliament's Agriculture Committee are in some way underpinned by inbalances in the supply chain. Supermarket purchasing power has left our farmers taking the strain as input costs rise and we are getting almost daily reminders of the unsustainability of the situation as we watch farmers walk away from the industry.
"And it is not just livelihoods that we are losing. Food security is not an idle catchphrase. It is vital that our local supply chains are protected and nourished if we wish to guarantee access to safe, local, affordable food. Voluntary measures have had very limited success so far and so I think the Commission is absolutely right to be sersiously considering the possibility of legislation now."