Food Law News - EU - 2000

Commission Press Release (IP/00/830), 27 July 2000

ADMINISTRATION - Free movement of goods: infringement procedures against the Netherlands

The European Commission has decided to begin infringement procedures against the Netherlands in connection with unjustifiable barriers to the free movement of goods in violation of Article 28 of the EC Treaty. The Commission has decided to bring the Netherlands for its rules on added nutrients in foodstuffs.

The Commission has decided to take the Netherlands to the Court of Justice because of a regulation on the addition of nutrients to food. The regulation contains a general prohibition on the addition of certain nutrients (e.g. vitamins A and D and folic acid) to food, except for certain specific products. The only possibility for economic operators to obtain a derogation from this prohibition is via an advance authorisation procedure for individual products. Several economic operators have submitted complaints to the Commission concerning the difficulty, even impossibility, of obtaining such an authorisation.

The Commission has noted that, as part of the authorisation procedure, the Netherlands authorities require the economic operator do demonstrate not only that the nutrient is not a danger to health, but also that there is a nutritional need for the addition of some nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin D and folic acid.

The Commission believes that the current requirements of the authorisation procedure are disproportionate to the cited aim of health protection.

In the Commission's opinion, they are incompatible with Article 28 of the Treaty, since a Member State cannot refuse to admit on its territory a food product lawfully manufactured and/or marketed in another Member State unless it can prove that the product is a danger to human health. The Commission therefore believes that these requirements constitute an unjustified barrier to the free movement of goods.

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