After a brief examination of the proposal for a directive concerning cocoa and chocolate products intended for human consumption, the Council agreed to continue its work on this file once the Commission presents the awaited study on the impact of the proposal on the cocoa-exporting countries.
It is recalled that the proposal is part of the effort aiming at the simplification of Directives deemed to be too detailed, as was requested by the Edinburgh European Council in 1992. It was submitted to the Council on 30 May 1996, at the same time as proposals for six other vertical Directives on foodstuffs.
The proposal does not only concern a widely consumed product, but it also has an impact on the Internal Market and, potentially, on the Community's relations with certain third countries.
The reason for that lies in the most sensitive issue at stake, i.e. the use, in the production of chocolate, of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter which currently is allowed in seven Member States (Denmark, Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The Commission - with a view to ensuring free circulation of cocoa and chocolate products - is proposing to extend to the entire Community the possibility of allowing the placing on the market of chocolate using vegetable fats other than cocoa butter, up to a limit of 5% of the weight of the finished product and subject to additional labelling requirements for such fats.