High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain
Throughout 2012, FoodDrinkEurope participated actively in the High Level Forum (HLF), which brings together stakeholders from across the food chain to assist the European Commission in implementing the 30 Recommendations of the High Level Group (HLG) on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry, and to develop an integrated industrial policy across the food chain as a whole. FoodDrinkEurope played a leading role in driving efforts to prolong the mandate of the HLF beyond 2012; these efforts proved successful, in December 2012, when the European Commission decided to extend the HLF’s mandate by an additional two years. FoodDrinkEurope’s work focussed in particular on two of the Forum’s expert platforms: the B2B Platform and the Competitiveness Platform.
The Expert Platform on Business to Business (B2B) contractual practices in the food supply chain is tasked with identifying relevant best practices in commercial relations and agreeing on several examples of practices which can be considered unfair.
In December 2012, FoodDrinkEurope, working together with seven other associations representing the food chain, agreed upon a draft voluntary framework entitled ‘Principles of Good Business Practice in the Food Chain’. This framework foresees a system of voluntary registration by food and drink companies and retailers in the food and drink sector, to signal their commitment to apply these principles and to offer a means to resolve disputes arising in a case of non-compliance.
The Expert Platform on the competitiveness of the agri-food industry was established to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the HLG with regard to agriculture and the environment, the internal market for food, research and innovation, trade and exports. Throughout 2012, FoodDrinkEurope was an active participant in workshops organised by the Platform focussing on innovation and sustainable sourcing, as well as workshops on Internal Market for food. FoodDrinkEurope also participated actively in workshops organised by the HLF’s Food Price Monitoring Platform and contributed to the ‘TRANSFOP’ (Transparency of Food Prices) project, which is organised under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for Research and Technological Development.
A sustainable, market driven EU agricultural policy
Throughout 2012, FoodDrinkEurope followed closely the ongoing process to reform the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The secretariat and relevant members engaged actively with key decision makers from across the EU institutions to ensure that the primary objective of the CAP continues to be ensuring sustainable agricultural production, in turn guaranteeing access to adequate quantities of competitively priced agricultural raw materials for food producers which correspond to specific quality criteria.
Throughout the year, representatives from FoodDrinkEurope met with European Commission officials as well as key MEPs responsible for driving CAP reforms through the European Parliament, in order to raise awareness of the food and drink industry’s political and economic interest in this important policy area. In addition, FoodDrinkEurope proactively communicated the industry’s views and concerns on various individual elements of the CAP reform package, such as the need to ensure the operation of competition law in the agricultural sector and also the importance of achieving a market-driven CAP. In July 2012, FoodDrinkEurope and the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) issued a joint statement outlining common objectives on CAP reform.
Trade: A cornerstone of growth for Europe’s food and drink industry
The European food and drink industry is the largest global food and drink exporter; exporting a total of € 76.2 billion of products in 2011. In the absence of a multi-lateral trade agreement, comprehensive bi-lateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) continue to be the most feasible way in which to secure greater access to third markets for Europe’s food and drink products.
Over the course of 2012, FoodDrinkEurope welcomed efforts to negotiate Free Trade Agreements with Japan and Morocco and welcomed the accession of Russia to the World Trade Organisation. In relation to Japan, FoodDrinkEurope proactively collaborated with other stakeholders, leading to a joint statement in November 2012 calling upon the EU and Japan to launch negotiations for a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA). FoodDrinkEurope also took part in several discussions and consultations with the Office of the US Trade Representative and others, to highlight the food and drink industry’s views on a potential FTA with the USA. In May 2012, FoodDrinkEurope President, Jesús Serafín Pérez, accompanied Commissioner Antonio Tajani together with a delegation of 20 other high level EU business representatives on a mission to the United States.
Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II)
Throughout 2012, FoodDrinkEurope engaged actively with the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) as well as key MEPs, to ensure that the proposed new MiFID Directive delivers market transparency and well-functioning markets for food producers. In particular, FoodDrinkEurope has been working to ensure that the new Directive will enable food manufacturers to manage their exposure to volatility in agricultural commodity markets in order to achieve better business predictability. This is of crucial importance considering discussions on reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will introduce more market orientation in the EU agricultural sector.
Profiling the value of SMEs to Europe’s food and drink industry
In 2012, FoodDrinkEurope undertook a number of initiatives to promote the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the food and drink industry. In October, to mark the annual ‘European SMEs Week’, FoodDrinkEurope launched a new website section which aims to communicate the value of SMEs to Europe’s food manufacturing industry.
Further actions needed to improve market conditions for food industry SMEs can also be found in the FoodDrinkEurope Competitiveness Report 2012.
A Social Dialogue for Europe’s food industry
In January 2012, FoodDrinkEurope entered into formal Social Dialogue with the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) following a Recommendation adopted in 2009 by the High Level Group for the Competitiveness of the Agro Food Industry.
Matching skills and jobs
In September 2012, FoodDrinkEurope and EFFAT launched a joint research project called ‘matching skills and jobs’. The project aims to get an updated economic analysis of the sector, as well as an overview of the demographic structure of its workforce. In addition, the project seeks to identify the skills and competences required in the sector and to anticipate qualifications that will be needed in the next 10-15 years in the EU food and drink industry.