Food Law News - UK - 2007


FSA Consultation Letter, 29 June 2007

OFFICIAL CONTROL - Draft Fishery Products (Official Controls Charges) (England) Regulations 2007

For a copy of the FSA consultation paper, see: Fish - Official Charges

It is proposed that those provisions of Council Regulation 882/2004 on Official Feed and Food Controls (the EC OFFC Regulation) that require food business operators to be levied a charge for official hygiene controls on direct landings of fish and fishery products are implemented in England from 1 January 2008. Responses are requested by: 21 September 2007

Consultation details

Implementation of Council Regulation 882/2004 is to be achieved by means of Fishery Products (Official Controls Charges) (England) Regulations 2007.

This is a national measure required by EU law. The current domestic Statutory Instrument that applies the existing EU charging provisions in England is to be revoked as a requirement of Article 27 of the EU OFFC Regulation. Thereafter, the minimum charge rates for official controls as laid down in Chapter V of Annex IV of the OFFC Regulation will apply.

The key proposals are:

Separate consultations on the proposal to introduce similar legislation are taking place in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland.

Background

In the EU, official controls are defined as Ďany form of control performed by the competent authority or by the Community for the verification of compliance with feed and food law, as well as animal health and animal welfare rules'. Council Regulation 854/2004 lays down specific rules for official controls to be conducted by competent authorities in EU Member States in respect of products of animal origin for human consumption. Those relating to fishery products are laid down in Annex III to the Regulation. Council Regulation 882/2004 (the OFFC Regulation) sets out the organisation of these controls as well as the rules for national competent authorities carrying out the official controls. Amongst other things, the OFFC Regulation requires competent authorities in Member States to collect fees to cover the costs arising from carrying out the official controls on particular foodstuffs, including fishery products. The Regulation lays down a series of minimum charge rates for different business activities within this sector. This new charging regime will therefore replace the existing charging regime put in place by virtue of Directive 85/73/EC.

The legal provisions in England for the current charging arrangements for fish and fishery products are contained in The Fishery Products (Official Controls Charges) (England) Regulations 2006 Statutory Instrument No 2904. These regulations require fees for official controls (including hygiene inspection and analyses) of fishery products to be collected under Article 27 of the OFFC Regulation. A transitional derogation allowed for the retention until 1 January 2008 of the Community rates specified in Council Directive 85/73/EEC (as amended by Directive 2004/41/EC).

Directive 85/73/EEC will be repealed on 1 January 2008 by the OFFC Regulation. Thereafter the minimum rates for official controls for fishery products set out in Chapter V, Annex IV of the OFFC Regulations will apply. We are therefore required to revoke the current SI and introduce new national measures to come into force on 1 January 2008.

The OFFC Regulation will also require from this date that fees be calculated on the basis of the tonnage of fish and fishery products directly landed by fishermen per month rather than per consignment, as in the current arrangements. As a result, landings of less than one tonne will now be included in the charging system. (This does not apply to direct landings of specified pelagic fish or to those fish and fishery products entering a processing establishment).

The rates relating to official control charges for imported fishery products under the OFFC Regulation will be implemented through an amendment to the current Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) Regulations 2006. The policy responsibility for these Regulations lies with DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) in England and Wales , the Scottish Executive Portfolio for Rural Affairs and Environment in Scotland and DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) in Northern Ireland .

It should be noted, however, that rates relating to direct landings from third country vessels, as prescribed in Paragraph 3, Chapter II, Annex V, and as in the current SI, are also included in the attached draft Regulations. These are not regarded as imports.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued public consultations on all aspects of the OFFC Regulation, including those relating to the financing of official controls, during and up to the adoption of the Regulation in 2004. In addition, during negotiation of the proposal between September 2003 and the date of adoption, the FSA provided 4 updates for stakeholders including information on the development of the charging provisions.


To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.