DG Agri study on the ‘State of play of agricultural interbranch organisations (IBOs) in the EU’

DG Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission has just released a study on the ‘State of play of agricultural interbranch organisations (IBOs) in the EU’ in the context of the current Common Market Organisation under Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013.

Arcadia International together with Wageningen University and a network of national food lawyers (including me and my dear friend Francesco Montanari) performed this study for the Commission. The study provides a detailed overview of national legislation on IBOs as well as an analysis of the sectors in which IBOs have been established so far and their activities. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of all stakeholders surveyed and interviewed during the study to whom we are very grateful!

The full report and annexes can be downloaded HERE.

Some findings extracted from the executive summary:

Member States with legislation on IBOs – main features: As regards the definition of ‘IBOs’, several Member States have laid down national definitions for this purpose. Although national definitions largely coincide with the notion of IBOs provided by Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, the legislation of each Member State has its own peculiarities.

The national legislation of most Member States provides for the possibility for IBOs to conclude agreements, decisions and concerted practices, provided that they do not breach the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013.

Article 164 par. 1 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 allows Member States to extend agreements concluded within an IBO to other operators that are not members of that organisation and that act within its economic area(s), as long as the IBO is considered to be representative of the production, the processing or the trade of a given product. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 165, when an IBO agreement has been extended, Member States may also decide that non-members, which benefit from that activity, are subject to the payment of all or part of the fees intended to cover the costs directly occasioned by the activities undertaken by the IBO in the general economic interest of the sector.

Member States with national legislation on IBOs but with no IBO recognised: Currently, IBOs are formally recognised only in France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain. The reasons for the lack of recognitions in the remaining 11 Member States vary and include, for instance, the lack of awareness about IBOs, the preference for other organisational structures, the lack of funding opportunities, distrust towards vertical cooperation in the food supply chain, due to historical reasons, as well as the administrative burden associated with their establishment. Likewise, in certain Member States, the slow uptake and the relative weakness of producer organisations recognised under Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 at national level is regarded as a factor that justifies the current lack of recognised IBOs.

Member States with no legislation on IBOs in place: 9 Member States, namely Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Sweden, Slovenia and the United Kingdom have currently no national legislation for IBOs. The reasons are similar to the above mentioned.

The number of IBOs in the European Union has increased from 56 IBOs in 1990 to 123 (119+4) in 2016. The recognition of additional ones is planned during the second semester of 2016 (fruits and vegetables and floriculture in the Netherlands, fruits and vegetables in Spain, banana in France, and 2-3 additional ones in Greece). In the 1980- 1995 period growth was mainly observed in France. Since then the growth occurred in 7 other Member States (Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, and Spain). More than half of the recognised IBOs are located in France (63) for 60 located in the other 7 Member States (7 in Greece, 6 in Hungary, 3 in Italy, 27 in Spain, 7 in the Netherlands, 5 in Romania, and 5 in Portugal). Most of the IBOs have a national scope (85 out of 123). Regional IBOs are present in only 2 MS (France with 36 regional IBOs in mainly the wine sector, and Spain with 2 regionally recognised IBOs in Andalusia). There are, at the moment, no transnational IBOs at EU level.

Representativeness rarely reaches 100%. It usually ranges between 80 and 95% at primary production level. In general, the level of representativeness seems to be higher in primary production than for the other stages of the supply chain.

The study shows that the main three objectives of IBOs are:

 First, improving knowledge and transparency of production and the market;

 Secondly, promoting consumption on internal and export markets; and

 Thirdly providing information and perform the necessary research to innovate and secure quality of the products.

IBOs are confronted with several challenges: The first main challenge is linked to the concerted management of interests of the different actors in the supply chain. The organisation of dialogue has to be preceded by a pre-condition, which is the clarification of the interests of the different categories of supply chain actors involved and the construction of a common position. In addition, analysis of the history of IBOs shows that the success of dialogue between supply chain actors within the IBOs is partly determined by the role that public authorities play. Another challenge is related to the demand of more transparency in the IBOs governance and procedures.

Benefits of IBOs

The assessment of success and consequently the benefits arising from IBOs have to be considered carefully as the realisation of benefits is not shown in all cases due to the variability of organisations and governing principles. Complexity is added by the very nature of mostly intangible or soft benefits that can neither be measured nor quantified explicitly.

IBOs offer a platform for discussion between supply chain actors that are members of these organisations and create the conditions for collective communication with other actors of the same supply chain but also leads to improve communication between IBOs members.

Additionally, this platform creates a focal point for policy dialogue with government and public authorities. Public authorities also benefit from the presence of IBOs in the supply chain in emergency and crisis situations. IBOs have therefore a specific role for the supply chain as an entry point for Competent Authorities. When an IBO represents all the stages of the chain it covers (because extension is systematically applied), authorities can use it as an entry point for implementing dedicated measures, proposing the delegation of tasks, and therefore the transfer of costs to the private sector.

In some cases, the possibility to extend food safety or plant health mandatory measures to all actors of a given agri-food sector provides a robust and immediate response to food safety emergencies and crisis.

Supply chains benefit from IBOs activities as regards the collection and dissemination of technical and economic knowledge. IBOs are centres of expertise which collect technical and economic data, discuss the findings and then make available this knowledge to their members (and often also to non-members). The presence of an IBO in the supply chain allows for a fairer distribution of risks and profitability.

IBO: tools for the development of supply chain?

IBOs may play a key role in the functioning of the supply chain, and therefore in developing the food supply chain for the benefit of all actors. However, the vertical cooperation model cannot ensure such developments by itself alone. It is in fact only one amongst the tools that could be implemented in the supply chain. In several MS in which no IBOs are recognised, other types of vertical cooperation exist, according to the description of the current landscape. There is quite a diversity of situations, which might be seen as a sign of adaptation to national situations.

To obtain the benefits of interbranch organisations, components of the legislation (especially possibility of extension of rules and financing) and the conditions of success presented above must be implemented, even if these prerequisites do not provide guarantees of effectiveness. Effective participation of members and real commitment to collaborating must be present. Moderation by public authorities in stakeholders’ discussions and disputes could also be seen as a factor of sustainability.

Even if the number of IBOs continues to grow at a regular pace, the full implementation of the “IBO concept” – i.e. the full use of legislative provisions, including extensions of rules and financing to non-members, and the establishment and establishment of close relationship between all actors being economic actors, other stakeholders and public authorities – is still under development. A majority of Spanish and Romanian IBOs have benefitted from national funding via subsidies at recognition. However, they currently suffer from lack of funding as subsidies have been stopped and no extension of rules is in place to date.

 

Summer Academy in Global Food Law and Policy 2016 – Final programme and brand new website

Also this year I will be pleased and honored to participate to Alberto Alemanno‘s Summer Academy, leading a panel about food fraud prevention and challenges faced by official controls when it comes to imported goods: a brief comparative analysis on different systems will be  also developed (EU, US, China).

As usual I suggest to any practicioner involved in the food system to attend, due to the invaluable heritage of knowledge and contacts you can gain in just 5 days.

The Summer Academy in Global Food Law & Policy, directed by the excellent friend and Professor Alberto Alemanno, is an established one-week summer programme that brings together practitioners, policymakers, industry representatives and leading academics working in the field of food law and policy. It offers intensive training on the most innovative developments in global food regulation and provides a unique opportunity for professional development and networking in an informal and inter-disciplinary setting. By talking, studying and interacting with food experts from all over the world, participants are able to gain new perspectives into both their own sectors and international regulatory issues. This is achieved by combining traditional classroom instruction with experiential learning opportunities offered by dedicated and distinguished international experts.

The Academy will take place from Monday, 18 July, to Friday, 22 July, 2016 in Bilbao, Spain. The choice of this vibrant city will enable participants to benefit from the world renowned Basque cuisine, its privileged geographical location between the Atlantic sea and the Rioja region, as well as its distinctive architectural landscapes (with the Guggenheim Museum, Norman Foster’s Undergroud, the towers by Arata Isozaki and César Pelli and the Calatrava’s airport).

This edition´s keynote speaker will be Professor Marion Nestle, award-winning author of Food Politics and of the newly published Soda Politics, from New York University.

Here below a preview of the final programme (to download, click here):

Key Note address Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and winning)

Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University

Mega Trade Agreements as New Sources of International Food Law

Marsha Echols, Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, Director of The World Food Law Institute

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Where do we stand?

Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris and Global Clinical Professor of Law at NYU School of Law

The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Implications for Food Safety Governance

Ching-Fu Lin, National Tsing hua University, Taiwan

EU Policies to Tackle Obesity and Overweight: Translating Promises into Change

Ilaria Passarani, Head of the Food and Health Department at BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation

The Australian Interpretive Nutrition Labeling

Alexandra Jones, Research Associate, Food Policy Division, The George Institute for Global Health, Australia

A Global Perspective through the Lenses of the Latin American Experience

Oscar Cabrera, Executive Director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center

The Role of Taxation and Economic Incentives in NCD Prevention: the Case for Sugar Taxes and Minimum Price for Alcohol Unit

Oliver Bartlett, Liverpool University
Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor, HEC Paris and Global Professor of Law, NYU School of Law

Think Outside the Juicebox: A Commercial Litigation Strategy to Temper the Effects of Food Advertising Targeting Children

Esther Trakinski, New York University

UNGPs and the Right to Food: Joining the Dots

Kirsteen Shields, Lecturer at the School of Law at University of Dundee

Nudging for Good: Towards a New Form of Corporate Social Responsibility?

Francesco Tramontin, AIM

Build Trust in Food: Review of Key Topics and Initiatives to Influence Consumer Behaviour

Petra Klassen Wigger, Scientific Advisor, Corporate Nutrition, Health & Wellness Unit, Nestle

The ‘Consumer’ Angle on the Nudge Debate

Clare Leonard, Director Global Nutrition Strategy and Communications, Mondelēz International

The challenge of Endocrine Disruptors: A European and Global Perspective

Natalie McNelis, EU and International Trade Lawyer, New York and Brussels Bars

Food Frauds and the Global Food Safety Import Challenges: a Comparative Perspective of EU, US and Chinese Official Controls on the Market

Cesare Varallo, Food lawyer and founder of foodlawlatest.com

Francesco Montanari, Food lawyer and Senior Associate at Arcadia International

Hope to see you there and have a enjoyable and fruitful week together!

In case you want to know more about the experience, feel free to contact me (foodlawlatest@gmail.com or 00393495275567) or write directly to summeracademy@albertoalemanno.eu.

Click here to apply and read participant’s feedbacks about the former editions.

To download the 2016 final programme, please click here.