The Agriculture Commission of the European Parliament is holding its first meeting of 2019 on Monday, 7 January. A number of items are on the agenda, including an analysis of a report called "The application of the Union's competition rules in the agricultural sector," which has been prepared by the Commission.
The report consists of three parts: introduction, analysis of the exemptions to the competition rules in the agricultural sector and investigations of competition authorities in the agricultural sector.
In the EU, competition rules are set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The rules prohibit agreements between two or more independent market operators for any reasons, including for price fixing agreements. However, and in accordance with Article 101 of the TFEU, "agreements shall be exempt from this prohibition if they generate objective economic benefits that compensate for the negative impact of the restrictions." The TFEU's priorities are increasing the sector's productivity, achieving a fair standard of living for the agricultural population or the stabilization of the markets, as well as making sure that consumers pay reasonable prices.
The second part of the report explains the general exemptions established in the Regulation of the Common Market Organization, which affect the entire agricultural sector, and the exemptions for specific sectors, such as the fruit and vegetable sector.
These exemptions are of special importance for fruit and vegetable producer organizations, according to Fepex. They must ensure that the production is planned and adjusted to the demand, especially as regards quality and quantity. They strive to concentrate the supply and market the products of its members, while optimizing the production costs. For this reason, the Federation considers it a priority to clarify the scope of the competition rules within the framework of the CMO.
The third point of the Report summarizes the investigations carried out by the competition authorities in the field of agriculture, covering the period from January 1 2012 to mid-2017.
The Report on "The application of the Union's competition rules in the agricultural sector" has been prepared by the European Commission and made public in October 2018. On Monday, it will be presented to Parliament's Agriculture Committee. The Commission will continue its dialogue with the interested parties and decide whether further legislative actions are to be taken.