The EU food and drink industry is facing a decrease in competitiveness. In response, the European Commission leads policy measures through a High Level Forum, works to combat unfair trade practices, monitors European food prices and funds competitiveness studies.
Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain
In 2010 the Commission established a High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain, to foster an EU-wide debate on food-related issues and support policy initiatives for an efficient food supply chain. The Forum undertook a holistic approach, including representatives of all stages of production and national authorities. During its first mandate (2010-2014) the Forum issued a set of recommendations to policy makers and private stakeholders. Due to the high level of interest by stakeholders, the Forum's mandate was renewed in June 2015, for another 4 years. All EU countries are now represented in the Forum, as well as food stakeholders (through their EU-level organisations) and civil society organisations linked to food. In preparation for the first meeting of the Forum, to take place in the second half of 2016, 2 preparatory Sherpa meetings (aiding in the production of the Forum’s final report) have taken place to discuss the future Work Programme of the Forum.
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Unfair trade practices
The Commission is working on initiatives to combat unfair trading practices in the business-to-business relations along the EU food supply chain. The High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain (2010-2014) hosted several debates on the topic among stakeholders. In July 2014, the Commission adopted a Communication on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain addressed to stakeholders and EU countries.
In January 2016, the Commission issued a Report on unfair business-to-business trading practices in the food supply chain. The report examined existing regulatory and enforcement frameworks in EU countries, the voluntary EU-wide Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) and the national SCI platforms that were set up.
Unfair trading practices will be one of the main focus areas of discussions in the High Level Forum (2015-2019) over the next years.
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The European Food Prices Monitoring Tool
The European Food Prices Monitoring Tool is a Commission initiative to increase transparency in the food supply chain. It provides data on price developments in the different stages of the food supply chain via price indices. The tool is meant to encourage competition throughout the agro-food supply chain and to improve its resilience to price volatility.
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The EU food safety law aims to ensure a high level of protection of human health while taking into account the protection of animal health and welfare, plant health and the environment.
DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs aims to ensure coherence between food safety objectives and business competitiveness by advocating a harmonised, transparent set of regulations that are not too burdensome for companies.
The Commission also takes measures to simplify existing legislation. A simplification rolling programme streamlined or repealed over 220 legal texts during the period 2005-2009.
In 2014, the Commission launched a Fitness Check on the General Food Law Regulation, which establishes the fundamental pillars of the EU food and feed law.
The Commission initiates and publishes studies to help formulate policies to encourage the competitiveness of the EU food and drink sector and the functioning of the chain. These studies have analysed the strengths and weaknesses of the sector and have shown the need to address certain issues on competitiveness facing the industry.
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