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Better functioning of food supply chain

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In 2010, the Commission tasked the Forum to help with the implementation of the recommendations of the former High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry and of the initiatives announced in the 2009 Commission Communication "A Better Functioning Food Supply Chain in Europe" (COM(2009) 591).<br/>

 The Forum's mandate, as set out by Commission Decision 2010/C 210/03, expires on 31 December 2012.

What has been achieved so far?

The report the Forum adopted today shows that the initial roadmap is very well under way, with 80 % of the initiatives either fully implemented or having gone through major advances (see IP/12/1314).

The report touches upon a wide variety of initiatives, both in terms of scope (agricultural policy, consumer information, markets in financial instruments) and tools – ranging from legislation and other public policy instruments through to stakeholder cooperation and self-regulation. For the full picture please consult the report (see weblink below).

Unfair trading practices in business-to-business settings

In 2012, the Forum dedicated a special attention to unfair trading practices in business-to-business settings. The aim was to propose consensual solutions to implement and enforce the principles of good practice unanimously agreed by 11 business organisations representative of the agro food sector in 2011.

In 2011, the Commission carried out a survey via the European Business Test Panel to gain a better understanding of the practical experience of businesses with Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). The survey collected alleged claims of practices perceived as unfair. Most of the companies that responded did not feel the legal instruments available in Member States gave them enough protection. UTPs are seen as an issue across a wide range of sectors throughout the European economy. Among the respondents, 76% claimed that they had been subjected to such practices during the pre-contractual negotiations; 75% considered that they experienced unfair practices after the conclusion of the contract, and 66% alleged that unfair contractual terms had been unilaterally imposed on them.

The Commission is planning to adopt, in the coming weeks, a green paper on unfair trading practices in the retail supply chain. With a horizontal, cross-sector approach, the green paper will launch a public debate on the impact of UTPs, on national frameworks that seeks to address this problem and on possible avenues of actions. Furthermore, the Commission is currently contracting a study to map exhaustively the Member States legal frameworks that seek to address UTPs and a study on innovation in the agro food sector.

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