EU is working on broader cartel rules for the agricultural and food chain

EP Plenary session - Short presentations

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on broadening competition rules in European agriculture. It is about allowing sustainability agreements in the food chain between farmers, producers and suppliers.

Such chain agreements have been set in motion in the new common agricultural policy, and would no longer be regarded as 'cartel formation'.

The new agricultural policy not only makes it possible to stimulate climate and environmental goals in agriculture with targeted subsidies, but also makes it possible to make chain-wide contractual agreements for certain products. Under the now partly outdated European rules, such contracts could be seen as distorting competition and/or disrupting the market.

Commissioner Margrethe Verstager (Competition) was already instructed to relax the strict rules when establishing the Green Deal and farm-to-fork to enable eco-schemes within agriculture. The new guidelines make it clear under what conditions agreements can be made within the agri-food sector for sustainability initiatives.

Commissioner Verstager pointed to the need to broaden the rules within agriculture. “Agricultural production is currently facing major sustainability challenges, ranging from animal welfare and biodiversity to natural resources, health and climate change.

We want to ensure that market participants in the agri-food sector can develop joint sustainability initiatives to address these challenges, while respecting our competition rules,” said Vestager.

Announcing the public consultation round, Agriculture Commissioner Janus Wojciechowski said: “The transition to more resilient and sustainable agricultural production requires better cooperation across the supply chain so that farmers receive a fair return for their efforts to make their production more sustainable than what is currently mandated” .

The new sustainability agreements are intended to be legally valid by the end of this year. A symposium will also be held later this spring.