EU pushes for Fair Prices

Some EU countries demand a crack down on big companies that charge different prices for the same products across Europe.

Ludo Lugnani
Ludo Lugnani

In Short: Eight EU countries want the European Commission to crack down on big companies that charge different prices for the same products across Europe, which is costing consumers a whopping €14 billion a year.

What's Going On?

Imagine this: you’re in Belgium, paying more for the same chocolate bar that’s cheaper in Spain. Sounds unfair, right? That’s because it is. It’s called “territorial supply constraints” (TSCs), where multinational companies make retailers cough up different amounts for the same products depending on the country. This Friday, a squad of eight EU countries is teaming up to tell Brussels, “Enough is enough!”

These countries, including Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, and Greece, are presenting a plan to the European Commission, pushing for stricter rules to stop this nonsense. Just yesterday, the Commission slapped a €337.5 million fine on Mondelez (yes, the makers of Toblerone and Philadelphia cheese) for playing dirty by restricting where wholesalers can sell their goods.

These TSCs are a sneaky way companies inflate prices in some countries, keeping your favourite snacks and essentials pricier than they should be. The EU’s single market is supposed to let goods flow freely, but these tricks put a damper on that.

Bar of Toblerone
The European Commission has fined Mondelez, the maker of Toblerone, €337.5 million for preventing wholesalers from purchasing products in one EU member state, where prices are lower, and reselling them in another.

What Does This Mean?

If this plan gets the green light, it could be a game-changer. We’re talking about ending the sneaky TSC practices for good, which means fairer prices for everyone, no matter where you shop in the EU. An outright ban on these shady contracts would make sure consumers aren’t getting ripped off just because of their postcode.

And there’s more! The plan includes ditching those long, confusing labels in every local language and replacing them with QR codes. Scan the code, get the info in your language – simple and cost-effective. This could help cut down on packaging costs, which might just translate to lower prices at the checkout.

While investigations like the one into Mondelez take forever and rely on evidence from wholesalers and retailers (who are usually tight-lipped), this new proposal offers a more straightforward solution. By tweaking EU rules or adding new ones, the hope is to scare companies straight from even thinking about these unfair practices.

How does this impact Law Firms?

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