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European Commission to ban late payments in the food supply chain

Friday 13 April 2018 | 02:20 PM CET

The European Commission has moved to ban and eliminate unfair trade practices, such as late payments, in the food supply chain.

The Commission proposes a ban on damaging and unfair trading practices in the food supply chain to ensure fairer treat¬ment for small and medium sized food and farming businesses. In addition, the proposal includes effective enforcement provisions: sanctions can be imposed by national authorities where infringements are established.

Unfair trading practices that are banned include late payments for perishable food products, last minute order cancellations, unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts and forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products.

Member States will have to designate a public authority in charge of enforcing the new rules and sanction those who infringe upon them. Furthermore, this enforcement authority will be able to initiate investigations of its own initiative or based on a complaint. In this case, parties filing a complaint will be allowed to request confidentiality and anonymity to protect their position towards their trading partner. 

The Commission will set up a coordination mechanism between enforcement authorities to enable the exchange best practices.

The proposed measures are complementary to measures existing in Member States and the code of conduct of the voluntary Supply Chain Initiative. Member States can take further measures as they see fit.

The Commission's proposal will take the form of a European law (directive) and will now be submitted together with an impact assessment to the two co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council, where Member States' governments are represented.

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