Directive on General Product Safety
This proposal is part of the Commission's initiatives to reinforce the Community regulatory framework on product safety. The Directive has two complementary objectives: ensuring a high and consistent level of protection for consumer health and safety throughout Europe and the proper functioning of the Internal Market. The idea behind the Directive is simple: only SAFE products are to be placed on the market. The Council reached unanimous agreement on a common position. There was widespread satisfaction this agreement moved forward so rapidly and agreement had been achieved in just nine months
The European Food Authority
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne presented to the Council the proposals for a Regulation laying down the general principles and requirements of European food law and establishing the European Food Authority.
The proposal establishes the principle that food safety will be considered at all stages from the farm to the fork and the fundamental definitions and overarching principles, which will provide the basis for more specific provisions in the future. The Commission's proposal was favourably received by the Council, which endorsed the principle of separating responsibilities for risk assessment from risk management. The Council would like to give further consideration to some points, notably on the composition of the Administrative Authority and the role of the Director General of the EFA. The Council expressed broad support for the Commission proposal and concluded that the European Food Authority is on track and it's principles are upheld by the Member States as a whole. The Presidency clarified that this proposal would be considered at the European Council in Nice.
The Commission published a Communication to the Council and the Parliament on the precautionary principle in February, which proposes guidelines on when and how to use the precautionary principle. The aim is to build a common understanding of how to assess, appraise, manage and communicate risks that science is not yet able to evaluate fully. This item has been discussed in Agriculture, Environment and Health Councils and the European Council in Feira. It was agreed to present the draft resolution prepared by the "friends of the presidency" working group to the Nice European Council.
Commissioner Byrne presented an update to the Council on the July 2000 proposal for a strategy to re-launch the authorisation procedure for GMOs on the basis of a reinforced framework for approval under a revised Directive 90/220/EEC. He informed the Council that in November the Commission services issued an options paper on labelling and tractability of GMOs. A meeting was held on 29 November with Member State experts in the fields of environment, food, feed and seed to discuss the various options. The results of these discussions will be carefully considered and Commissioner Byrne will be working with the European Commissioner for the environment, Margot Wallström, with a view to bringing forward concrete proposals. The Council expressed agreement with the rational approach adopted by the Commission and were in agreement with the need for a common approach.