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Monday, 05 July 2010

Food prices: new legislation needed

New legislation is needed to ensure fair returns to farmers and transparent prices to consumers, by enforcing fair competition throughout the food supply chain, said Agriculture Committee MEPs. Suggestions as to how to ensure fairness throughout the food chain, by tacklíng dominant positions, unfair commercial and contractual practices and late payments, and also by improving the bargaining position of farmers, are set out in a report drafted by José Bové (Greens/EFA, FR) and approved with 32 votes in favour, four against and two abstentions. This report responds to a Commission communication on reforms needed to improve farmers' returns and consumer price transparency.

New legislation, including penalties, to enforce fair competition

Penalties and a complaint mechanism should be put in place to discourage unfair behaviour by market players,  says the committee. To monitor relations between producers and retailers and if necessary rebalance them, an EU-wide instrument could be put into effect through specialised bodies in the Member States. Actions to be taken should include an analysis of possible misuse of private labels, i.e. on retailers' "own brand" products,  and a pilot project to create a European "observatory" of farm prices and margins, it adds.

The Commission is urged to propose legislation to limit dominant market positions at every stage of the supply chain, "including the food processing industry and retailers", says the text, which adds that companies engaging in unfair practices should be "named and shamed".

Source: European Parliament