The safety of foodstuffs is, more than ever, a major concern in citizens' minds and everything must be done to re-establish their confidence, which has been particularly shaken by the BSE crisis. With this concern in view, the European Council approved the declaration in Annex 2
Annex 2: Declaration by the European Council on Food Safety
Food safety is more than ever a matter of major concern for the public, and everything must be done to restore public confidence severely shaken by the BSE crisis. Consumer choice must also be facilitated through the provision of proper information and education.
The European Council stresses that the production and supply of safe food must be one of the European Union's priorities. It confirms its attachment to a high level of health protection, ensured on the basis of high-quality, transparent scientific advice. Taking account of the precautionary principle, all appropriate steps to achieve this goal must be taken by the Community institutions and the Member States. It is important that the Community should work resolutely for the achievement of the same goal in the relevant international bodies and in the context of trade between third countries and the European Union.
The European Council welcomes the policy debates on food safety held by the Ministers for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, the Internal Market and Health in October, November and December 1997 and considers that the European Union should remain constantly alert to food safety concerns.
The European Council believes that certain aspects of Community legislation should be supplemented and simplified, while maintaining a high level of protection and seeking to meet consumers' legitimate expectations. It will be important to cover the entire food production chain effectively and consistently.
The food safety requirement should guide any action taken on the Commission's Green Paper on food legislation. The Green Paper should also serve as a basis for meeting consumer expectations of food labelling that is as clear and informative as possible.
The European Council would point out that effective implementation of legislation is an essential aspect of the process and calls on Member States to optimize their controls and coordinate more closely with the Commission.
The European Council also welcomes the Commission's undertaking to submit twice-yearly reports on BSE to the European Parliament and the Council.