Fight against unfair trading practices

For over 10 years, COLEACP has been part of a coalition of organisations, including Oxfam, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM-EU), lobbying the EU to tackle unfair trading practices (UTPs) in agricultural supply chains. Smaller suppliers are particularly vulnerable to unfair practices such as last-minute cancellation of orders and late payments.

In April 2019 this lobbying activity finally bore fruit and the groundbreaking EU Directive 2019/633 on Unfair Trading Practices in Business Relationships between Businesses in the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain was formally adopted.

Each EU Member State had two years from April 2019 to give force to (or “transpose”) the Directive, and the deadline is now only two months away. While some Member States have already put draft laws on the table, with innovative solutions to protect agri-food suppliers in the EU and globally, others still have to catch up.

COLEACP has added its signature to a Joint Civil Society Organisation and Trade Union Statement of 1 March, which reminds EU Member States that they are required to transpose the Directive into their national legal framework by 1 May 2021, and highlights the opportunity of adding in additional protection for suppliers, as already taken up by some Member States.

Since the approval of the UTP Directive, civil society organisations have been advocating for a more ambitious transposition by individual Member States. For example, Member States can expand the list of forbidden (“black”) UTPs by also prohibiting some practices that the Directive does not forbid but only limits: “grey” UTPs. They can also include abusive practices beyond those listed in the Directive, or institute a general ban on UTPs. And finally, they can expand the scope of their laws to prevent UTPs not only in agri-food, but also in other supply chains.

When the UTP Directive comes into force, for the first time there will be a shared minimum standard for fair trading practices enforced throughout Europe. This will provide regulatory certainty to buyers and confidence to suppliers – even those based outside the EU – that they will be able to access protection regardless of where their European buyer is based.

  • Read the full Joint Statement here
  • The Fair Trade Advocacy Office has more information and resources on the UTP Directive here

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