The supermarkets resist Yolanda Díaz's shopping basket

The Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, and the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, during the meeting this Monday with the distributors. / ep

The Vice President and Minister of Labor defends the legality of the proposed price cap despite warnings from Competition

Clara Dawn


The second meeting of Vice President Yolanda Díaz and the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, to cap the price of some basic products in the shopping basket has ended without a definitive agreement. The Minister of Labor, who has described the meeting with distributors and consumer associations as "cordial", has called for a new meeting in the coming weeks to analyze all the proposals put on the table this Monday.

It will not be easy. The government and large distributors agree on the need to pitch in to help households overcome the impact of rising prices. But offering discounted quality products (including vegetables, fruit, greens, fish, meat and eggs), as recommended by the Executive, does not seem to be within the plans of large stores.

This has been reflected in the shopping basket presented this Monday by Carrefour, where the fresh product is conspicuous by its absence among the 30 that the company includes in its offer. "They do not accept what we have asked for, but they have promised to analyze our proposal," insisted Yolanda Díaz without going into the company's decision.

In the same way, Eroski has highlighted "the great effort" that it is making to "contain" public sale prices, which has materialized in promotional efforts during the last quarter and has recalled that the profit margin in a sector such as the layout is "tight", so there is "not much room for maneuver".

For his part, Minister Garzón recalled that the Government can only "offer a guide", but that it is the companies that ultimately decide how, how many and what products are included in this basic basket.

The goal is to put food quality first. “In our country, the childhood obesity rate is double among the poorest families than the richest. When there are economic difficulties, healthy patterns tend to be set aside,” explained Garzón in an appearance before the media.

At this point, and within the discussions this Monday, the possibility of further discriminating the shopping basket has also been raised, with the aim of giving greater benefits to the most vulnerable families. “It is about addressing the entire Spanish population, but bearing in mind that there are some families that are much more vulnerable, for whom the shopping basket can account for more than 80% of their budget,” insisted Garzón.

However, the large distributors insist that for the 'cap' on the prices of basic products to be effective, "new tax realities" would have to be applied, such as the reduction of VAT on some products. This possibility was already raised in its day by the 'super' and, predictably, the Government will study it for the next meeting.

Minister Yolanda Díaz also insisted on defending the legality of her proposal, after the Competition notice on the risk of capping food prices against European legislation. "The proposal is clear and it is not only legal, but perfectly legal," said the vice president, alluding to certain exceptions established in the Trade Law itself.

Among them, Díaz refers to article 13 of Law 7/1996, of January 15, on the Regulation of Retail Trade, which establishes that "the State Government, after hearing the affected sectors, may set the prices or margins of marketing of certain products, as well as subjecting their modifications to control or prior administrative authorization».

From Facua, one of the consumer associations present in the negotiations, they recall that this capacity is planned for several cases. Among them "in the case of essential products or strategic raw materials" and "exceptionally and while the circumstances that advise intervention persist, when, in a given sector, there is an absence of effective competition."

In addition to ministers Garzón and Díaz, representatives of the Council of Consumers and Users and the organizations that comprise it participated in Monday's meeting. The Association of Supermarket Distributors (ANGED), the Association of Spanish Supermarket Chains (ACES) and the Spanish Association of Distributors, Supermarkets and Supermarkets (ASEDAS) will also attend.

However, representatives of small businesses who had requested it have not attended, after showing their outright rejection of the Executive's proposal.

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