News and press releases

Towards a Fair Food Supply Chain  

Press release 

23 September 2021

By request of the Slovenian Presidency, the Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment  (NAT) section of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has prepared an exploratory opinion on the effective achievement of the objectives of the Directive on unfair trading practices in the agricultural and food supply chain. The opinion includes best practices from Member States and offers guidance for an effective transposition and implementation. 

In its opinion, the EESC welcomes the EU Directive as a step forward in addressing power imbalances along the chain. It stresses the importance of fair prices as enabling factor for investment, innovation and sustainable production; welcomes the resilience of the food supply chain during the COVID crisis; and calls for an ambitious transposition and implementation of the Directive by EU Member States  

The EESC particularly highlights the cases of Member States which have gone beyond the minimum standards imposed by the Directive and taken legislative action to offer additional protection to supply chain actors by, for example: 

  • Putting a ban on the return of unsold products without paying for them or in passing the buyer’s storage cost onto the supplier (Germany) 
  • Forbidding buying below production cost (Spain, possibly Italy as well) 
  • Setting up ombudspersons to independently monitor the implementation of the law and to ensure anonymity for complaints, inter alia (Spain and Germany) 
  • Modifying the turnover requirement so that the transposition law can cover larger actors (Germany, -preliminary- Belgium and Spain) 
  • Banning double race auctions (possibly Italy) 
  • Setting obligation to have written contracts for all operations (Spain) 
  • Setting a revision process in 2 years (instead of 4 as indicated in Directive) (Germany)  

In its opinion, the EESC highlights the need to ensure that transnational operations are also effectively protected by the Directive and its transposition laws. Ensuring that non-EU actors have the right tools and information will require specific action from the EU and its Members States.  

The opinion also identifies gaps on the Directive, such as the ‘step approach’ which implies that a supplier who has a large turnover but a ‘de facto’ weaker position would not be able to complain; or the fact that some UTPs that are now considered as ‘grey UTPs’ (ie. accepted only under certain conditions) should be prohibited altogether. 

While the deadline to transpose the Directive expired in May 2021, several Member States have still not notified its transposition to the Commission. Consequently, the Commission issued letters of formal notice to 12 Member States in July 2021. This opinion is expected to accelerate the transposition process and to push for an ambitious and effective implementation. 

Related links 

Read the full opinion here  

The clock is ticking 

Further reading on our work on Unfair Trading Practices can be found here.











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Press Release in English

16 September 2021

Ahead of the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, set to be held in Glasgow this November, actors of the global Fair Trade movement have published a position paper calling on the international community to ensure that ambitious climate aims go hand in hand with climate and trade justice goals.

Every human being on the planet will be affected by the consequences of climate change if decisive action is not taken soon. However, we will not all suffer from it to the same extent. The structural inequalities in our economic systems that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare could be exacerbated by a rapidly changing climate.  The contributions of farmers, workers, and producers are key to address this issue and achieve a sustainable future. This will require the eradication of business models based on an extreme imbalance in negotiating power between buyer companies and producers that lead to the former imposing abusive conditions on the latter.

There can be no climate justice without fair trade. It would be unacceptable for farmers and producers to bear the full costs of the climate transition on their own. Policymakers must ensure they receive the support they need to make this shift while making sure they obtain fair prices for their products.



The clock is ticking: two Months Left to transpose the EU Unfair Trading Practices Directive

On Monday 1 March, The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) along with 13 civil society organisations and trade unions, has published a joint statement on the transposition of the EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) in the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain. Only two months are left before the deadline for EU Member States to transpose these EU rules. The Statement calls for ambitious national laws transposing the Directive in every single EU Member State. read more

New EU Trade Policy, fair enough?

Brussels, 18 February 2021 – Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission has unveiled today the new EU Trade Policy, which builds on three main pillars: openness, sustainability and assertiveness. The Fair Trade movement welcomes the commitment to “promote value chains that are circular, responsible and sustainable” but regrets the lack of concrete proposals to make this happen. read more

Fair Trade European Parliament Breakfast with Executive Vice-president Dombrovskis: Putting fairness and sustainability at the core of new EU trade policy

In June 2020, the European Commission launched a major review of the EU’s trade and investment policy. Following a recent call from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to include a Fair Trade sub-section in the new EU Trade Strategy, Commission Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis was invited to join the European Parliament’s annual Fair Trade Breakfast yesterday (8 December 2020) to further engage in constructive dialogue. read more

Strengthening the Synergies Between Competition Law and Sustainability: Our Submissions to EU Policy Processes

The EU is committed to contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the goals set by the Paris Agreement. Under the European Green Deal, it has explicitly committed to ensure that “[a]ll EU actions and policies should pull together to help the EU achieve a successful and just transition towards a sustainable future.” Competition law cannot remain an exception to this move towards coherence, and the FTAO is glad to have participated in two parallel policy processes through which we except the Commission to strengthen the synergies between competition law and sustainability. read more