The imbalances in bargaining power between the contracting parties in the food supply chain have drawn much scholarly attention but have also been closely examined by policy makers. The European Commission is committed to facilitate the restructuring of the agricultural sector by encouraging the creation of voluntary agricultural producer organisations. DG Agriculture and Rural Development has launched a large study, “Support for Farmers' Cooperatives” , to provide background knowledge that will help farmers organise themselves in cooperatives as a means to consolidate their market orientation and so generate a solid market income.
The specific objectives of the study are the following: 1. To provide a comprehensive description of the current level of development of cooperatives in the European Union. This description will pay special attention to the following drivers and constraints for the development of cooperatives: a. Economic and fiscal incentives or disincentives and other public suppo measures at the regional and national levels; b. Legal aspects, including those related to competition law and tax law; c. Historical, cultural and sociologically relevant aspects; d. The relationship between cooperatives and the other actors of the food chain; e. Internal governance of the cooperatives. 2. To identify laws and regulations that enable or constrain cooperative development. 3. To identify specific support measures and initiatives which have proved to be effective and efficient for promoting cooperatives and other forms of producer organisations in the agricultural sector in the European Union.