New rules to stop EU supermarket giants squeezing suppliers will continue to protect UK farmers and growers after Brexit, a leading MEP has predicted.

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, welcomed agreement between the European institutions on a new directive to curb unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the agriculture and food supply chain, which was confirmed by the parliament’s Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.

The deal was reached just before Christmas following intensive talks between the European Parliament, Council and Commission, with Miss McIntyre closely involved as negotiator for the parliament's cross-national European Conservative and Reformists group of MEPs.

During the drafting process Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, persuasively encouraged EU legislators to follow the model of the UK’s Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) which protects farmers in their dealings with the top 12 biggest supermarkets.

She told the committee: “I have been proud to see the commission and the parliament use the UK’s Code of Practice GSCOP as one of the bases for this legislation. The EU has recognised the UK as a good example and a leader in combatting unfair trading practices.

“The Directive will protect suppliers with a turnover of up to €350 million from buyers who are substantially larger than they are. I believe this will cover all the Producer Organisations (POs) in the UK.

“Most importantly, the Directive covers suppliers who are outside the EU supplying buyers inside the EU. This ensures that even when the UK leaves the EU our farmers and growers will be protected when trading with our European partners."

The Directive represents a minimum harmonisation, which means that member states may go further to protect their farmers and growers if they choose.

In its detail, it groups all suppliers and retailers into six categories according to their turnover in euros from 0 to 2 million,  2-10 million, 10-50 million, 50-150 million, 150-350 million, and 350 million upwards). Each supplier will be protected in the event that its buyer falls into a higher turnover category.

The unfair trading practices that are outlawed are:
1. The non-respect of a 60-day payment term for non-perishable products;
2. Payment for services not provided;
3. Buyer refusal to provide a written contract on request.
4. Misuse of supplier’s confidential information by the buyer;
5. Commercial retaliation or even the threat of such retaliation if the supplier makes use of the rights guaranteed.

 6. Payment by the supplier for the examination of customer complaints which are not due to the negligence of the supplier.
7. Payment delays for perishable products (over 30 days);
8. Unilateral and retroactive changes to supply agreements;
9. Cancellation of orders for perishable products with short notice;
10. Payment for the deterioration of products already sold and delivered to the buyer.

The Directive also identifies “grey” practices which are prohibited unless they are agreed in a transparent manner and before the beginning of the supply agreement.

These are:
1. Transfer of advertising costs to the supplier, in addition to the transfer of costs for promotion and marketing proposed by the Commission;
2. Payments for the management of the product once it has been delivered.
3. Return of unsold products;
4. Payments to become a supplier or for the stocking, displaying or listing of products;
5. Payments for promotional costs; 

6. Payments for marketing costs.

Confidentiality of suppliers will be guaranteed after it was found that they were often discouraged from complaining due to fear of retaliation. It will also be possible for suppliers' organisations, representative organisations and NGOs to file a complaint on behalf of their members, further guaranteeing the anonymity of the complainant.
  
The European Commission will create a website through which information on individual national enforcement authorities will be clearly identified.

A no-deal Brexit  risks destroying the jobs miracle currently lifting the West Midlands and Britain.

That was the message today from Anthea McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament.

She spoke out as the latest monthly jobs figures showed employment at a record high of 32.48 million, up 3.43 million since 2010.

The figures also showed wages rising at their fastest pace in a decade and nearly a million disabled people entering work since 2013.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: “This government is doing an amazing job of breaking down the barriers that keep people from

working.

“Here in the West Midlands, our strong manufacturing and export base has seen employment growing faster than anywhere in the U.K.

“But that could all be destroyed  if we crash out of The EU with a no-deal Brexit.

“That is why I encourage all MPs to really think about people’s jobs in the West Midlands and across Britain when they vote on the eventual withdrawal deal in the next few days or weeks.”

 


Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre today condemned moves to re-open the decision to licence the world's most popular weedkiller for use in the European Union.

The European Parliament's Special Committee on Pesticides wants the issue to be reassessed just 12 months after Glyphosate was licensed for five years by EU member states. The call is among a raft of recommendations produced by the temporary committee aimed at overhauling pesticide licensing system.

Conservative Agriculture Spokesman Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands, said the proposal on Glyphosate was politically motivated, flew in the face of scientific evidence and would create further uncertainty for farmers.

She said: "The licence was renewed after Glyphosate was approved for use by both the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemical Agency, bodies set up and funded by the EU precisely to provide this kind of expert advice.

"Casting doubt on its immediate future once again makes it difficult for farmers to plan ahead and risks calling the EU's regulatory procedures into disrepute."

It is estimated that banning Glyphosate would cut UK production of winter wheat and winter barley by 12% and oil seed rape by 10%, costing the farming industry £940m a year. Its use also lessens the need for mechanical ploughing, reducing pollution and soil erosion. No biological alternatives are expected to be commercially available in the near future.

Miss McIntyre welcomed several proposals in the report, such as the calls for greater transparency and non-animal tests on pesticides, but said on the whole it represented a missed opportunity to fine tune the existing approvals system, which is working well according to evidence presented to the committee.  Instead MEPs are proposing to take responsibilities away from member states and centralise much of the testing and approval process within the EU institutions and agencies.

She said: "There is absolutely nothing to suggest member states are less good at licensing products than the EU, and they are certainly more knowledgeable about local needs and conditions.

"Sadly this report is driven by partisan politics and lobby groups, not the best interests of consumers, the environment or the need to safeguard food production. At the same time it risks needlessly undermining confidence in the current licensing system.

"It could have been written the day after the committee was established as it ignores the bulk of expert evidence presented to it."

The committee's report has no legal authority but, if approved by the European Parliament in January, would inform future decision making on pesticides.

Senior Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre today urged her colleagues in Westminster to back the Prime Minister's Brexit deal for the sake of the country.

The West Midlands MEP, a former vice chairman of the party, said: "Everybody has had the opportunity to say their piece and to paint their own picture of a perfect outcome.

"But no agreement will be perfect for anyone and now is the time back our Prime Minister and do what is best for Britain by supporting her deal."

 She spoke out as Theresa May continued to set out her reasons for supporting the Brussels deal as the best option for future national prosperity.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both employment and agriculture in Brussels, said: "As an MEP I do not get to vote in Westminster - but if I did I would be backing the Prime Minister 100 per cent and encouraging all my colleagues to do the same.

 "The deal she has struck achieves so many key targets. We secure control of our borders, we can set our own fisheries and agriculture policies, and we can negotiate free trade deals outside the EU, while protecting jobs and security.

 "It is the very nature of negotiation that there are comprises and that nobody is satisfied with every single aspect of a deal. So you can wait for perfection but achieve only deadlock... or act now and secure Britain's future.

 "I encourage MPs of all parties, but especially our own, to respect our Prime Minister and to recognise the enormous amount of hard work that has got us this far. That means pursuing pragmatism in place of perfection and backing this deal for Britain's sake."

Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre has headed off an attempt to slap an immediate ban on British undertakers from the traditional practice of embalming bodies.

Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, intervened over concerns from the UK funeral industry that new rules on workplace exposure to carcinogens and mutagens would mean an immediate end to the use of embalming fluid to preserve cadavers.

Currently in more than half of British funerals, families ask undertakers for the body of their loved one to undergo some form of embalming, often when they wish to see them in repose. The practice is not so frequent in other parts of Europe.

British funeral directors were concerned that new EU exposure limits for formaldehyde - the key ingredient in embalming fluid - would mean an end to traditional embalming before any replacement products could be developed.

Now Miss McIntyre has persuaded fellow MEPs to grant the funeral industry an exceptional three-year delay in implementation so that proposed new methods and materials can be tested and introduced. The parliament's Employment Committee accepted her compromise in a vote in Brussels

She said: "Many British families choose to visit a funeral parlour to see their loved ones after they have died. It is part of the grieving process and often provides great comfort. Embalming ensures that they have the reassurance of seeing the deceased as they remember them.

"The truth is that lower effective concentrations of embalming fluid and better ventilation have been keeping exposure of workers to formaldehyde fumes lower and lower in Britain as time goes on. It is safer than it has ever been.

"This new legislation is well meant, but I don't think official in Brussels realised quite how big the impact would be on Britain. I am thankful that colleagues have allowed this extended implementation and avoided an immediate ban."