The importance of the Food & Organic Trade sector for the Netherlands is reflected not only in the fact that almost 10% of our national income is earned within Food & Organic Trade, but also by the fact that in 2010, the first Rutte Cabinet made this sector one of the spearheads of its top sectors policy. Businesses in this sector are often key innovators that collaborate closely with world-leading, Dutch knowledge institutions. Knowledge has indeed become a major export product for the sector.
Businesses in the Food & Organic Trade sector are increasingly confronted with ever more rules imposed by the Dutch government and by Brussels. These rules relate in particular to improved sustainability, health and food safety. Compliance has also become a more important aspect for this sector, often closely related to the refunds and surcharges contained within EU common agricultural policy. Negotiations between the EU and the US on a trade and investment agreement (TTIP: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) are also under considerable pressure. Nonetheless, it seems likely that these negotiations will result in rules on the (partial) scrapping of customs duties, and new rules and procedures for placing products on foreign markets. All these developments call for a proactive approach from the sector, in which legal risks need to be carefully examined and charted out.
The Food & Organic Trade group at Banning has a wealth of knowledge of the Food & Organic Trade business, and knows the sector like the back of its hand. This knowledge is translated into tailor-made, practical advice for businesses involved in primary production, the supply industry, the (food) processing industry, auctions and trading and retail operations. In an integrated approach, together with all the relevant practice groups at Banning, we can advise and litigate in liability issues, contract law, intellectual property law, competition law and mergers and acquisitions.
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has taken the first steps towards a new Environment Act. The aim is for this single act to replace a range of existing environment-related laws including the Environmental Protection (General Provisions) Act (Wabo), the Spatial Planning Act (Wro), the Water Act and the Environmental Management Act. This is set to become the largest legislative operation in Dutch history, and the overall objective is to combine all laws? relating to the human environment within a single Act.
The government aims to increasingly take a backseat position in this field. The environment plan, environment vision and programme approach are instruments on the basis of which government wishes to make it possible for businesses and citizens to bring about spatial development, subject to their own responsibility. Although this will result in fewer rules, on the other hand, it does demand greater legal understanding of the possibilities and potential pitfalls.
The attorneys at Banning are closely monitoring all of these developments. As a consequence, we are perfectly positioned to advise you on issues relating to spatial planning. Careful advance consideration of how a licence application (for example for building new business premises) or an environmental permit can best be approached can save you a great deal of legal wrangling and money.