Food Law News - EU - 1999

15 October 1999: ADMINISTRATION - Barriers to trade: infringement proceedings against France and Austria

Commission Press Release (IP/99/756), 15 October 1999

Barriers to trade: infringement proceedings against France and Austria

The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against France and Austria in respect of unjustified barriers to the free movement of goods in breach of the EC Treaty (Article 28). It has decided to bring an action before the European Court of Justice against France in connection with that country's rules on articles of precious metal, and to send two reasoned opinions to Austria concerning barriers to the import of foodstuffs and medicinal products. A reasoned opinion is the second stage in infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If a Member State which receives a reasoned opinion does not produce a satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission can refer the matter to the Court of Justice.

Austria - foodstuffs

In Austria, no health labelling of foodstuffs whatsoever is permitted, regardless of whether the consumer is liable to be misled. Some markings may be authorised provided they are compatible with the aim of protecting consumers from misleading information. The Commission has initiated infringement proceedings, firstly because a blanket ban on the health labelling of food, especially in the case of information which cannot be misleading for the consumer, is not compatible with Directive 79/112 on the labelling of foodstuffs. Secondly, the Commission takes the view that the prior authorisation procedure for certain items of information constitutes a barrier to the free movement of foodstuffs legally manufactured and/or marketed in other Member States. Since other, less restrictive measures (e.g. market controls, rules on unfair competition) exist, this measure is considered to be disproportionate to the objective sought.

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