A summary of the consideration of draft opinion is now available.
EP ENVI Committee Meeting – 12 April 2018
5. Dual quality of products in the Single Market
·Consideration of draft opinion
·Deadline for tabling amendments:23 April 2018, 11.00
Rapporteur Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR)
- the first version of the report was based on the initial meeting of the shadow rapporteurs;
- particular attention had been paid to the “new Member States” as research showed poor standards for food destined to vulnerable groups such as baby food or novelty food etc;
- when consumers read the label, they usually came to the conclusions that food-composition was the same in most products, but that was not the case;
- she regretted that the guidance published by the Commission was not ambitious enough, as European citizens could not depend on the willingness of the consumers to change their business practices themselves;
- the Commission said that dual quality of food would be banned. She would prefer to have that in writing in an Annex of the Unfair Trade Practices (UTPs) Proposal.
Interventions by Shadow Rapporteurs followed
Mihai Turcanu (EPP, RO)
- neither consumers preferences, nor “taste perceptions” should be used as an excuse for UTPs;
- an authority should be created to check the production recipes when suspicions were raised.
Bolesław G. Piecha (ECR, PL)
- the ECR was satisfied with the fact that the European Institutions were addressing the issue of dual quality;
- the quality of products should be identical across the EU;
- sometimes producers justified dual quality with the difference in local demand. He found this “absurd”, as producers did not know whether “Italians or Poles preferred more or less fish in their fish fingers “;
- he welcomed the Commission’s idea to introduce a “benchmark product”.
Davor Škrlec (Greens/EFA, HR)
- citizens from Eastern Europe were the most affected by the dual quality of food;
- the composition of food should not differ from one state to another, especially when the product and the packaging were the same;
- there was also a problem of dual quality in cosmetics and hygiene products.
Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL, CZ)
- the draft opinion contained more or less everything that GUE wanted to have in the text;
- the fact that the Commission allowed “food reformulation due to local preferences and taste” was unacceptable, as that was just “an excuse”.
Interventions by Members followed
Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT)
- it was important to provide high quality foodstuffs for all European citizens, however she reminded the Members that the production of foodstuffs of the same brand could sometimes involve differences for different markets, often for legitimate reasons such as the place of production, specific local needs, seasonal or geographical variables;
- nonetheless, she supported the Commission and the rapporteur’s initiatives in addressing the issue.
A representative from the European Commission made the following remarks
- the Commission had made the issue one of its priority as all European citizens should have the same quality in terms of food;
- the Commission’s Action Plan involved the dialogue with the industry, funding to the MS to develop several projects and improve the testing on dual quality matters. The proposal on how to tackle UTPs was a significant step towards making consumers’ legislation more and more enforceable;
- the Commission was also introducing a penalty for breaches of consumers’ legislation (including dual quality of products) that could amount to 4% of the company’s turnover.
Rapporteur Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR) made the following closing remarks
- the division between Eastern and Western Europe in the quality of products needed to be addressed.
Source: One Policy Place