UK supermarkets could face a fresh grilling from Brussels over supplier relations, just weeks after being hauled over the coals by the UK competition authorities.
In a written declaration signed by 439 MEPs on February 18, the European Parliament called for the European Commission (EC) to "investigate and remedy" the abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the EU.
The declaration asks the EC to propose appropriate measures, including regulation, to protect consumers, workers and producers from any abuse of dominant position or negative impacts identified in the course of an investigation.
In order for a declaration to be adopted, over half of all 785 MEPs must support it. As more than 400 MEPs signed up, the EC would now have to respond, said a spokesman for the Parliament.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) immediately attacked the move as unwarranted.
BRC Brussels director Alisdair Gray said: "There have been three major investigations into the UK grocery market since 2000. MEPs need only look at the current one which has already lasted two years."
Provision Trade Federation director general Clare Cheney said: "If it goes ahead, it's going to be another complete waste of time and money."
While some Member States had introduced national legislation attempting to limit supermarkets from abusing a dominant market position, many of them increasingly operated across national boundaries, making harmonised EU legislation desirable, claimed MEPs.
Their declaration calls for the EC's directorate general for competition to investigate the impact that concentration of the EU supermarket sector is having and to assess any abuses of buying power which may follow.