Unfair Trading Practices Directive now law in most EU countries

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. We advocated strongly for new legal provisions to extend beyond the EU to also protect third country suppliers.

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 in April 2019, and each EU Member State had two years to put into force (or “transpose”) the Directive. The EU webpage “Unfair trading practices explained” describes the 16 practices targeted.

The deadline to transpose the Directive expired in May 2021, but a number of Member States have still not done so, and the Commission issued letters of formal notice to 12 countries in July 2021.

When transposing the Directive into their national law, EU countries can choose to be stricter than the Directive and go beyond its scope, and some countries, such as Germany, have done so. The progress of each country in transposing the Directive is updated here.

On 22 September the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) officially adopted the exploratory opinion “Towards a Fair Food Supply Chain”. The EESC “welcomes efforts undertaken by some Member States that have raised the level of ambition above the minimum harmonisation standards of the Directive and put in place laws that offer additional protection to EU and non-EU suppliers”. The EESC “welcomes that the Commission decided to regulate unfair trading practices, but regrets that the Commission did not foster a harmonised approach across MS to avoid fragmentation in the single market”. The Committee urges all Member States to transpose and implement the Directive as soon as possible.

Through the Fit For Market and Fit For Market SPS programmes, COLEACP is continuing to work with a group of advocacy organisations to ensure that supply chain operators are informed about their rights under the Directive, and the procedures that they can use. In the coming weeks we will support the Fair Trade Advocacy Office in the dissemination of a leaflet giving practical explanations of the rules for operators in third countries. A workshop to provide detailed information to operators, with a focus on developing and emerging economies, will be held in early November.

This activity is supported by the Fit For Market and Fit For Market SPS programmes, implemented by COLEACP within the Framework of Development Cooperation between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union. Fit For Market is co-funded by the French Development Agency (AFD).

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