Legal & Tax Alerts

Amendments to Law no. 321/2009 regarding the trade of food products

On 01.04.2020, Law no. 28/2020 regarding the amendment and supplement of Law no. 321/2009 regarding the trade of food products (“Law no. 28/2020”) was published in the Official Gazette[1]. The normative act will enter into force within 45 days as of its publication date in the Official Gazette of Romania. It brings a series of amendments to the conditions for the trade of food products.

The main amendments brought by Law no. 28/2020 concern the following aspects of Law no. 321/2009 regarding the trade of food products (“Law no. 321/2009”):

Removal of the concepts “Romanian meat”, “Romanian product”, “agri-food product chain”, “interprofessional agreement” and “short chain of supply” and inclusion of the concept “direct partnership” representing a direct commercial relationship between the retailer and the agricultural cooperatives, associations of agricultural producers, agricultural production companies, agri-food producers and distributors, between which a commercial agreement for a term of minimum 12 months is concluded. Also, the reference to the provisions of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 103/2008 regarding the establishment of interprofessional organizations for agri-food products has been removed from the definition of the commercial agreement;

Inclusion of the concept “commercial act”, stipulating that the services regarding the extension of the retailer’s distribution network, the arrangements of the retailer’s premises or the operations and events for the promotion of the activity and image of the retailer are not considered to fall within the scope of the commercial act concept. Nonetheless, the services requested by the buyer from the supplier for promotion, marketing and advertising operations, if they have been previously agreed by the supplier and the buyer throughout a clear and unequivocal agreement, may be deemed as commercial acts;

Amendment of the prohibition of retailers to invoice/reinvoice and charge taxes and services from the supplier; as a consequence of such amendment, any retailer will be prohibited from requesting the invoicing/reinvoicing and charging taxes and services from the supplier, other than the ones related to the commercial act. The services directly related to the commercial act have to be included in principle in the agreement between the parties, except for the ones previously agreed by the supplier and the buyer throughout a clear and unequivocal agreement;

Amendment of the provisions regarding the payment terms by the retailers to the suppliers by removing the maximum limit of the terms of 30 calendar days and stipulating that these payment terms will be established by the parties in the agreements, through negotiation observing the legislation in force. Also, for the fresh food products, provided in the annexe to Law no. 28/2020, the maximum limit of the payment term has been increased from 7 calendar days to 14 business days as of the takeover of the merchandise by the beneficiary;

Replacement of the obligation of the retailers to grant distinct premises for display and sale of Romanian products with the possibility of the retailers to grant distinct premises for display and shelf signalling for each food product, based on the country of origin, according to the understanding between the parties;

Removal of the specific provisions regarding the labelling of the meat traded on the Romanian territory;

Replacement of the obligation of the retailers which are legal entities to purchase from the short-chain of supply at least 51% of the volume of merchandise on their shelves consisting of meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, honey, dairy and bakery products, corresponding to each category of food products, with the possibility of the retailers to establish that the products from the acquired quantity of merchandise consisting in meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, honey, milk and bakery products, to gradually correspond to each category of food products, obtained from direct partnerships, in order to ensure the access of the consumer to fresh products. The methodology for performance of direct partnerships will be established by order of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;

Replacement of the obligation of the retailers which are legal entities to organize events for the promotion and sale of Romanian food products with the possibility of the retailers to organize events for the promotion of food products;

Amendment of the sanctions applicable in case of failure to observe the provisions of Law no. 321/2009, namely the removal of the sanction of suspension of the retailer’s functioning permit for a period of 6 months in case of repeated infringements of the provisions regarding protection against anti-competitive agreements and practices and increase of the amount of the monetary fines applicable in case of failure to observe certain provisions, provided that the provisions of Competition Law no. 21/1996, republished, as subsequently amended and supplemented, are not applicable.

The ongoing agreements have to be amended for compliance with the new provisions of Law no. 321/2009 regarding the trade of food products within 6 months as of the entry into force of Law no. 28/2020.

The methodological norms for the enforcement of the provisions of Law no. 321/2009, as subsequently amended and supplemented by Law no. 28/2020, will be approved by Government decisions, upon the proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, within 30 days as of the entry into force of Law no. 28/2020.

 

[1] Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, no. 274 dated 01.04.2020.

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