Denmark to halve the number of laws on food and the environment

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Petmal
© GettyImages/Petmal

Related tags Natural environment European union

Danish companies, farmers and consumers will benefit from simpler and clearer laws on food and the environment without having less protection, says the Ministry for Food and the Environment on its reform.

Last week, the country’s minister for food and the environment, Esben Lunde Larsen, presented a proposal that would cut the number of laws relating to food and the environment from 95 to 43 "with unchanged protection​".

Lunde Larsen had convened an expert panel to come up with suggestions on how the streamlining could be done.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry, the expert panel called for “a more logical structure” ​in the legislation and fewer laws, which would increase legal certainty.

"We must have legislation made easier for Danes. Therefore, I will now look at the expert panel's recommendations​," said Esben Lunde Larsen.

Dubbed ‘The Legal Compass’, the proposal is undergoing a consultation process until February next year. 

Under the proposal, a new Nature and Biodiversity Act could replace up to eight  separate acts, such as the Hunting and Game Management Acts, Forestry Act and parts of the Road Safety Act.

Such a law would ensure "a correct balance of interests"​ between different actors using nature as a resource, said a statement by the ministry citing the panel’s recommendations.

Meanwhile an overarching Environment Act would collate rules on preventing and controlling pollution. It would “provide for a simpler, coherent and more transparent regulation for the benefit of companies and authorities in particular​,” said the Ministry.

This act would replace parts of separate legislative acts on animals, fertilisation and possibly parts of the Marine Environment Act.

A new Water Act would replace eight laws currently in force and, according to the panel, result in “a more holistic and coherent regulation that more closely matches the structure and focus of EU regulation”.

Making it easier to run a food business

“We look very much forward to having less complex regulation​,” the CEO of Danish Food and Drink Federation (DI Fødevarer) Leif Nielsen told FoodNavigator”It’s positive that they actually want to make it easier to run a food business in Denmark.”

However, the legislative restructuring will impact farmers more than food and beverage manufacturers as, like in other member states, Danish food regulations are based on EU law.

Senior adviser in environmental policy development at DI Helle Husum  said: "We very much support this because today the environment legislation is sometimes difficult to understand and we have a large number of laws to be compliant with. By grouping them it will be easier for companies and NGOs to navigate, especially for small enterprises.”

Husum added that it could be between five to ten years before the new legislation is actually in place.

Lars Hvidtfeldt, vice president of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council praised the ministry for reducing bureaucracy and unnecessary rules within the environmental legislature.

It is one of the most important framework conditions for the food cluster and is of major importance for our competitiveness. We also hope that it will be felt in terms of shorter processing times​,” he said.

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