What are EU playing at? Trigger-happy Brussels sues another 12 states in fresh legal blitz

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The European Commission launched the legal proceedings yesterday and sent the member states letters of formal notice. In a statement, eurocrats confirmed the nations have two months to finally adopt the rules, which were introduced in April 2019, or face further consequences. The rules are designed to target unfair trading practices in the agri-food sector.

These include late payments, last-minute order cancellations, unilateral changes in contract, forcing suppliers to pay for wasted products or refusing written contracts.

The deadline for enacting the EU rules was May 1, 2021.

France, Portugal and Spain are among the countries facing legal action.

The list also includes Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

France and Estonia have partially transposed the EU ruling into national law.

The unprecedented adoption of the EU rules were championed by politicians across the bloc.

But it came with a number of warnings that the timescale may be challenging given national parliaments were expected to adopt them within two years.

Currently, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Sweden have informed the Commission that the rules have been implemented.

The infringement proceedings come at a time when farmers are concerned about an increase in practices deemed unfair on the agri-food sector.

These include downward pressure on prices paid to producers whilst consumer prices remain stable, especially for fruit and vegetables.

The EU farmers association COPA-COGECA has urged the EU Commission to force member states to swiftly transpose the rules to help cut out unfair practices impacting the industry.

The EU’s legal action also comes after the Brussels-based executive threatened to haul a total of 23 governments in front of EU judges for not writing copyright rules into domestic legislation.

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The member states, including France, Italy, Spain and Poland, have been set an ultimatum to explain their tardiness or face further consequences.

The EU copyright rules were adopted two years ago to ensure a level playing field between the bloc’s creative industries and online giants such as Google and Facebook.

The Commission confirmed that it had sent letters of formal notice to the countries asking for explanations.

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This is the first step in the EU’s infringement proceedings, which could eventually end with the offending governments being slapped with huge fines until they fall into line with the rules.

The deadline for implementing the copyright measures was June 7.

The other countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

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