MEPs to seek food info compromises ahead of vote

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European parliament, European union, Council of the european union

The European Parliament’s ENVI committee will seek to hammer out compromises over several contentious amendments of the new food information legislation tomorrow, ahead of the second reading vote next week.

The vote had been planned to take place this week, but has now been postponed until 19 April.

A spokesperson told that the food information vote has been delayed for a week “to give a bit of extra time, as in the second reading it is difficult to see which amendments are admissible and which are not, and they are still trying to find some compromises”.

Some of the hot areas of contention up for debate – and possible compromise solutions – include precise requirements for country of origin labelling (COOL), mandatory labelling of trans fats, where the nutrition label should be located and issues of legibility, and the possibility of a portion size indicator.

The first reading of the food information proposal ending with the dismay of rapporteur Renate Sommer in December last year, as the Council of Ministers did not take on board many of the points MEPs were in favour of.

Sommer called the Council’s agreement “sloppy”, and warned that the Parliament would have to adjust to difficult negotiations in the second reading, and that consumers will have to wait a while longer for a clearer labelling 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.

Quality and GMOs on the table

Other food-related debates in Parliament this week include the AGRI committee’s first discussions of the proposed new rules on food quality this afternoon. The policy package on food quality standards was adopted by the Commission in December. It aims to reinforce the PDO-PGI scheme, streamline marketing standards, and provides guidelines on use of voluntary labelling schemes.

In addition, the ENVI committee will vote tomorrow morning on proposals to allow member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of GM crops that have already been given safety approval at EU level.

In the afternoon Commissioner John Dalli will pay a visit to the ENVI committee, where MEPs are expected to raise questions on the proposals on GMO cultivation and the failure of novel foods conciliation, following an impasse with Council on the cloning issue.

Related topics: Labelling, Policy, Food labelling

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