The proposal for the new legislation was published in January 2008, and rapporteur Renate Sommer’s report in November. Around 1000 amendments have been received to Sommer’s report, making it hugely complex and impeding compromise agreement on the main points.
A vote on the amendments was due to take place on 31 March, but Sommer requested a delay to allow her to draft a new report in which she will include the amendments deemed “most possible”, a spokesperson for the Envi (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) committee told FoodNavigator.com.
At yesterday’s committee meeting, MEPs voted by 26 to 10 in favour of the postponement. It will be technically impossible for the new report to be delivered before the elections in June, since the 31 March Envi meeting will be the last of this administration.
The new report will be open to amendments, and the Envi vote will take place in the early days of the new administration, most likely in the autumn.
The delay means that there will be a new round of lobbying after the elections, since some of the MEPs will have changed.
One of the most hotly-debated points has been the best system to adopt for the presentation of mandatory nutrition labelling. The proposal favoured a system similar to the guidance daily amount (GDA) system, developed and implemented by the food industry.
Critics have said this is too complex, however, as it requires numeracy skills – but alternatives, such as the UK-favoured traffic light labelling scheme, have been called too simplistic.
John Bowis (EPP-ED, UK) spoke in favour of delaying the vote, believing that alternatives will be developed with more time.
Certainly the delay is welcome a new campaign from Denmark which launched just this month, Stop-GDA, which finds fault with the GDA system and claims it could mislead and add to the obesity problem. Since the campaign entered the lobbying fray rather late, it will now have more time to seek support.
Amongst the MEPs that opposed the delay was Chris Davis (ALDE, UK), who argued that although the dossier is complex, a lot of work has been done on it already.
Kathalijne Mari Buitenweg (Greens, NL) pointed out that the new Parliament would still have the possibility to alter the decision if deemed necessary.