Opinion on The importance of agricultural trade for the future development of agriculture and farming in the EU in the context of global food security
The European Economic and Social Committee greets the Commission's legislative proposals with interest, and notes that some – although far from all – recommendations made in its past opinions have been taken into account. Most importantly, the Committee has repeatedly stated that the future CAP must be driven by a determination to defend the European agricultural model, which is based on the principles of food sovereignty, sustainability and responsiveness to the real needs of farmers and consumers.
The EESC repeats that the European agricultural model cannot operate at world market prices and conditions and does not come free of charge. Any policy that promotes this agricultural model thus requires sufficient financial resources. However, in the current proposals concerning the Union budget for the 2014-2020 period, the resources earmarked for the CAP would be clearly reduced in constant price terms.
Over recent years, there has been a shift in bargaining power in the food supply chain, mostly to the advantage of the retail sector and some transnational companies and to the detriment of suppliers, in particular primary producers. The concentration of bargaining power has led to the abuse of positions of dominance causing weaker operators to become increasingly vulnerable to Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). The opinion takes stock of the impact of UTPs, stresses the difficult position of the most vulnerable actors along the chain and calls for action at EU level to stop UTPs and promote a fairer food supply chain.