GMB Pub Tenants And Fair Pint To Meet EU Officials

7 Sep 2009

A meeting between GMB tenants, Fair Pint representatives and EU officials will take place next Tuesday 8th September 2009 in Brussels to discuss ending the block exemption of pubcos in the UK from EU competition rules. Under current EU regulations, the beer tie is exempt from EC Treaty rules, which ban agreements containing clauses that prevent competition.

The EU is re-examining the Block Exemption Regulations (BERs) that grant some commercial agreements, including the beer tie, an opt out from competition law.The BERs expire on 31 May 2010 and the European Commission’s Directorate General of Competition will decide whether to renew them or make specific changes

GMB’s European Officer Kathleen Walker Shaw from the GMB office in Brussels will be accompanied at the meetings by Ian McNicol GMB political officer and GMB members who are pub tenants and Fair Pint tenants.

There are 25,000 pubs run by tenants tied to the property companies (pubcos) that own the freeholds of the pub buildings. The big seven pubcos are Admiral Taverns Ltd, Enterprise Inns, Fuller Smith & Turner, Greene King, Marston’s, Punch Pub Company, and S & N Pub Enterprises. The tenants are obliged to buy some or all drinks they sell in the pubs from the pubcos at inflated prices. For example, they are charged up to 80 pence per pint more than they could pay for the same beer in the normal wholesale market.

Martin Smith GMB said “GMB will tell the EU that the mediation process being discussed later this month by the pubcos is “window dressing” and a total sham. The EU needs to know that block exemption has been abused by the financial sector with securitization used to overcharge customers with higher retail prices and exploit tenants, two thirds of whom earn the national minimum wage, in order to shovel money to bondholders many based in offshore tax havens. This was never the intention behind block exemption regulations. The time has come for the EU to call time on this racket”