European Commission aims to level the playing field between suppliers and large customers

The European Commission recently adopted a communication encouraging EU member states to look at ways of improving protection for small food producers and retailers against the unfair practices of their sometimes much larger and stronger trading partners.

The commission has concerns that, over the past few decades, due to developments such as increased market concentration and vertical integration, there is increasing disparity in the levels of bargaining power between different players in the supply chain and that the abuse of this market power may sometimes lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).

Commission vice-president for internal market and services Michel Barnier said: ‘There needs to be a level and fair playing field between SME food suppliers and retailers on one side and large multinational manufacturers and supermarkets on the other side. Unfair trading practices jeopardise this. The industry has already made important and valuable efforts to address unfair behaviour and should continue doing so. Member states should ensure that they have effective and consistent regulatory frameworks in place to build on and complement self-regulatory initiatives.’ …

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