As the integration of Central and Eastern European candidate countries into the European Union draws closer the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) this week welcomed the Slovakian food and drink federation as an observer member.
The move is part of a CIAA strategy to actively support food industry associations in candidate countries to ultimately encourage the prompt and effective integration of the country into the EU food sector. Slovakian observer membership follows in the steps of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Estonia.
The Slovakian food and drink federation (Union of entrepreneurs and employees of the Slovakian Republic food and drink federation) is comprised of 16 sectoral organisations and almost 350 food companies. The Slovakian food and drink industry employs around 46,000 people and is valued at €2.4 billion.
"We are delighted to join the CIAA, since in the context of enlargement our involvement within European industry structures is vital", said Peter Vendelin, Chairman of the Slovakian Federation. "Slovakian industrialists intend to participate in experts' discussions on issues relating to food safety and the single market for foodstuffs," he continued.
In a statement this week the CIAA said in order to answer consumers' concerns and maintain the competitiveness of companies in Europe it is essential that candidate countries from Central and Eastern Europe, on entry into the Union, have fully integrated the food section of the Community Acquis.
Since 1989, candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe have made considerable efforts, the CIAA reports, to adapt to European standards in the area of food safety and to integrate the Community Acquis. CIAA experts have led about fifty missions to advise and train Central and Eastern European countries in the area of European food law, hygiene, safety and communication. The CIAA is the official mouthpiece of the food and drink industry in the European Union.