Belgium: New regulation on unfair commercial practices in the food supply chain

The European Directive on unfair B2B commercial practices in the food supply chain has just been transposed into Belgian law by a law published on December 15, 2021 in the Belgian Official Journal. MSI's Belgian law member Thales provides further insight on the regulation's scope, the prohibited practices and the sanctions that will soon be in force.

Context and aim Directive (EU) 2019/633 on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain was published on April 17, 2019 in the Official Journal of the European Union. The purpose of this directive is to prohibit certain unfair practices from buyers of agri-food products (e.g. retailers) towards suppliers of these products (producer organizations, wholesalers, processors, etc). This is explained by the particular vulnerability of the sector due to the volatility of farmers' incomes, the high commercial risks they face due to the dependence of their yields on increasingly unstable weather conditions because of the climate crisis, and the perishability of the majority of their products. There is often a strong dependence of suppliers on buyers, who are mostly of a considerably larger size. Therefore, the European legislator has tried to prohibit a certain number of unfair practices used by these buyers, in order to make their economic relations with suppliers more equitable. This directive has just been transposed into Belgian law through the Act of 28 November 2021. It was adopted rather quickly given that the proposal of the Act took place on September 7, 2021. It must be noted that time was of the essence for the Belgian legislator, as the Directive required that the national provisions transposing it had to be in effect by November 1, 2021... As it is a minimum harmonization directive, Member states may maintain or adopt rules to prevent unfair commercial practices that are stricter than those set out in the Directive. It remained to be seen whether the Belgian legislator would make use of this option. Read the full article >>