The Romanian Senate voted, 76 in favor and 4 against, a bill that requires from large grocery chains to supply the 51% of fruit, vegetables and meat from the domestic production. The explanatory memorandum of the draft act states that its purpose is to ensure easy access for Romanian producers in the major food retail chains. The draft act must also be voted by the House in order to be applied.
An importer from Romania, mentioned to Agrotypos that “Almost the 70% of food on the shelves of the country’s supermarkets are imported, so the Romanian Government decided to proceed to such measures”.
According to the same importer, this bill may drive to violation issues of Community competition law, on the other hand does not ensure the safe product distribution to the Romanian consumer, because the country except of the production of apples, potatoes, peppers and carrots, can not, at least at the moment, to meet the domestic needs by domestic production. Furthermore, Romania neither has a variety of fruits and vegetables (citrus, nectarines, etc.) nor can produce adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables during the winter season.
The bill, which is an additional provision to Law 321/2009 on food sales, will soon be put to a vote in the Parliament of the country. It states that legal persons who activate in food sale are required to obtain meat, fruit and vegetables, at least at a rate of 51% from domestic production. During the winter months (December-February), the percentage of imported fruit and vegetables could be as high as 70% of the total for each category. Failure to comply with these measures will incur fines of 25,000-50,000 Lei, that is 5,600-11,300 euros.
The Romanian government claims that the bill is based on a European Commission report, adopted in January 2015. This report entitled “from farm to folk” actually refers that “a handful of multinational corporations operating throughout the Food Chain”, adding that governments should take measures to help small-scale farmers to sell their products in local markets. Based on this report the Romanian government announced these measures. Read the whole report here.
Recently, Great Britain also got measures to support agricultural production. In that case the government encourage supermarkets to use the mark with the British flag on the labeling of the local products by British producers. But this is something completely different which is not contrary to Community law.