Rapporteur’s dismay at ‘sloppy’ food info agreement

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, European parliament

The probability of the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament reaching agreement over food information legislation looks slimmer than ever, indicates rapporteur Renate Sommer, as the ministers did not take on board many of the points MEPs were in favour of.

The Parliament voted on its first reading position in June. Amongst the points that found favour was the preference for guidance daily amount (GDA) style labelling instead of a colour-coded scheme.

The Council position, which was agreed on Tuesday, marks the end of the first reading. The contentious piece of legislation will now progress to second reading.

But Sommer’s remarks after the Council’s agreement, which she has called “sloppy”, indicate the rapporteur of the Parliament’s environment committee is doubtful that consensus will be reached.

She said the Parliament must adjust to difficult negotiations on second reading, and that consumers will have to wait a while longer for a clearer labellng of food – “if it comes at all”.

If no agreement is reached at second reading the Council and Parliament will enter concilium behind closed doors, a process that can lead to trade offs and lack of clarity in the details.

The rapporteur was also high critical of the Belgian presidency’s suspected motivations for reaching agreement before the end of its term of presidency, saying it has been “paralysed by political crisis”,​ in a bid to showcase some success. This has led to some important details being neglected, she said.

Front-of-pack not mandatory

One of points deemed most critical is the Council’s view that there should be no mandatory front-of-pack labelling, even for energy value. Moreover, the Council disregarded the removal of kilojoules as a term of measurement, even though MEPs were broadly in favour of this.

This, in Sommer’s view, would be damaging to consumer protection.

There was a small gleam of positivity from Sommer, however, as the Council plumped for her preference to delete national labelling schemes in the interests of the single market – while MEPs had voted against this.

Related topics: Labelling, Policy

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