The UK draft Guidance notes have been discussed at a meeting in Brussels on 12 march with the Commission and other Member States. At the meeting the guidance notes were welcomed as providing a useful basis for addressing problems and avoiding barriers to trade. The Commission recognised and appreciated the efforts made by the UK.
Although some of the more important issues were not discussed in detail, the Commission recongised the need to address them seriously. It will discuss them with its Legal Services whether the interpretations the UK have suggested are appropriate for guidance notes or require more formal action (i.e. amending legislation). It has promised to do this quickly with a view to taking decisions in the Standing Committee for Foodstuffs later this year (either in June or September).
Although the Commission will be using the UK’s guidance notes as a starting point, it is likely that any Community guidance will be far more general in nature. MAFF therefore will continue to develop their guidance notes to ensure that there is common focus on the issues. Circulated with the letter therefore are some proposed amendments to a version of the guidance notes circulated by MAFF on the 22 January. Comments on the proposed amendments are requested by 24 April.