European Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on official feed and food controls - update on negotiations. [Note: For the Second Update, see 25 November 2003]
The FSA undertook a full public consultation on the above proposal between March and June last year. We indicated then that we would update stakeholders via our website about developments in the negotiations. This is the third such update. It is also a request for further urgent comments and views.
What is the proposal about?
The proposal is concerned with the approach that the enforcement authorities in the Member States should adopt for checking that feed and food businesses are complying with feed and food law. It also covers how the European Commission will, in turn, check that the enforcement authorities in the Member States and in third countries are operating effectively.
What is the current state of play?
Negotiations have progressed very rapidly under the Italian and Irish Presidencies and it is likely that political agreement at first reading will be sought in March in advance of the forthcoming European Parliament elections. If adopted, the Regulation is due to apply from 1 January 2006 except for the provisions on financing which will apply from 1 January 2007.
The proposal has been considered by the European Parliament's Environment,
Public Health and Consumers Committee. The Committee's report has been issued
and the vote by the Parliament's Plenary session is now expected on 8 March.
What are the key outstanding issues?
Two key issues remain unresolved. The first relates to the scope of the proposal whilst the second is on financing (as explained in update 2).
What is the problem with the scope?
The Commission intended that the proposal would have a wide scope covering the approach to be taken by competent authorities in undertaking official controls in respect of all feed and food law requirements and all EU animal health and welfare rules. Some Member States want to restrict the scope in terms of animal health and welfare to those aspects that impact on the feed and food chains. The UK has been content with the broad scope given that it would be extremely difficult to draw a line between those aspects of animal health and welfare that impact on feed and food and those that do not.
What is happening on financing?
Update 2 outlined the compromise proposal on financing. This has been pursued but there is still no agreement on which control activities should be subject to mandatory fees and on the level at which minimum flat rate fees should be set.
In terms of the UK position on these two issues, the objective remains to secure
as much flexibility as possible so that we may remain as close as possible to
the status quo.
What are the next steps in the negotiations?
The proposal is to be considered at Ministerial level at the February Agriculture Council where the Irish Presidency will be seeking 'agreement to the general approach' (this means agreement in principle subject to any amendments that the European Parliament proposes). This will pave the way for political agreement to be achieved when the European Parliament's opinion is issued in March. Before then, there will be further discussion of the proposal in Brussels on 12 February at a meeting of the Chief Veterinary Officers.