EDA applauds single market versus national labelling

A ruling has come against French national labelling laws in the European Court of Justice (ECJ). General advocate Gerard Hogan has issued his legal opinion in the ECJ court case C- 485/18 on the French national origin labelling decree, defending the single market principle, the European Dairy Association reports.

The success of the European dairy sector is based on the European project and on its principles, especially the single market: France, for instance, is exporting 40% of its milk – and more than 65% of the exported French dairy products are consumed within the Union’s single market.

The court case C-485/18 deals with the French national mandatory labelling decree, that was approved against the opinion of the legal services of the EU Commission, DG GROW and DG COMP by the EU Commission back in 2016 for a test period of two years and which is still in place.

The French government claims that the consumer perception of quality is part of the product quality, while Avocat General Gerard Hogan makes it very clear in the opinion: only if the origin of a foodstuff has a tangible impact on the product itself, national origin labelling can be considered. “Any other conclusion would pave the way ….to purely nationalistic – even chauvinistic – instincts,” as he puts it.

The representative of the EU Commission claims, “There is no difference between German and French milk; any difference of milk is only linked to the farming systems and conditions.”

To get the EU Commission back on duty, MEP Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE) has been publishing a list of recently adopted national measures violating the single market principle in the food sector. “We are grateful for this call for action to the EU Commission that – in the past – missed many opportunities to take serious its role as guardian of the treaty.

“MEP Schwab highlights the problems, that the EU Commission’s communication ‘Identifying and addressing barriers to the Single Market’ of March 2020 did not really tackle,” said EDA secretary general, Alexander Anton. “The legal opinion of Hon. Mr Justice Gerard Hogan does not come as a surprise and we trust, the Court will follow his opinion.”

The EU dairy industry is a vital part of EU agriculture beyond the EU dairy industry sector chain. The 150 million tonnes of milk produced per year in the Union are processed in 12,000 milk processing and production sites across the EU. With 700,000 committed dairy farms and over 300,000 industrial jobs all over Europe, dairy is the industrial backbone and the economic basis of rural Europe and beyond.

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