Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Sixth Report


21 Labelling of compound animal feedingstuffs

(27639)

10940/06

COM(06) 340

Draft Decision correcting Directive 2002/2/EC amending Council Directive 79/373/EEC on the circulation of compound feedingstuffs

Legal baseArticle 152(4)(b) EC; co-decision; QMV
Document originated27 June 2006
Deposited in Parliament3 July 2006
DepartmentFood Standards Agency
Basis of considerationEM of 13 July 2006
Previous Committee ReportNone, but see footnote 61
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

21.1 Community legislation on animal feed includes provisions on the declaration of ingredients in the labelling of compound (manufactured) feeds, under which manufacturers originally had the option of declaring individual ingredients (e.g. wheat, barley) or categories of ingredients (e.g. cereals). However, in 2000, the Commission put forward a proposal[61] to remove the latter option, and to require the declaration of the percentage inclusion of each ingredient of compound feeds. This proposal was eventually adopted as Directive 2002/2/EC,[62] but with the percentages declared being subject to a tolerance of ±15% of the amount stated, though an additional provision required manufacturers to disclose exact percentage information to customers on request.

21.2 Steps were taken to implement the Directive in the UK by amending the Feeding Stuffs Regulations 2000, but, before these Regulations came into force, a number of feed companies applied to the High Court to have the relevant provisions suspended, on the grounds that they would require manufacturers to reveal commercially sensitive feed formulations. The High Court in England (and the equivalent courts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) subsequently suspended the relevant provisions, and referred Directive 2002/2/EC to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a determination of its validity.

21.3 In December 2005, the ECJ ruled[63] that the Directive's requirement for compound feed manufacturers to declare the percentage of each ingredient within a tolerance of ±15% was proportionate, and therefore a valid part of EC law. However, the requirement for manufacturers to disclose exact percentage information to customers on request was rejected by the ECJ as disproportionate, and was therefore declared invalid.

The current proposal

21.4 The current proposal would amend Directive 2002/2/EC to reflect the ECJ's ruling by deleting the invalid provision. It also corrects the invalid amendment which Directive 2002/2/EC purported to make to an earlier Directive,[64] in which the rights of the customer to request exact information had to be stated on the label.

The Government's view

21.5 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 13 July 2006, the Minister for Public Health (Caroline Flint) says that Member States are already under a legal obligation to implement the ECJ's ruling by virtue of Article 10 of the EC Treaty, and that the Commission's proposal for a correcting Decision has been made in accordance with Article 233 of the Treaty, which requires institutions whose Acts have been declared void to take necessary measures to comply with the Court's judgement. She adds that the institutions in this case are the European Parliament and the Council, and that the Commission's proposal is therefore necessary for them institutions to fulfil their legal obligations under Article 233. On this basis, the Government considers it essential that the UK should support the proposal, which she says is also welcome, in that it will insert the terms of the ECJ's ruling into the text of EC animal feed labelling legislation, thus avoiding users of the legislation needing to consult both EC Directives and the ECJ ruling to establish the relevant legal provisions.

21.6 The Minister acknowledges that the UK feed industry still has concerns that listing percentage ingredients will make their feed formulations available to competitors and therefore impact on their competitiveness, but points out that this requirement was subject to a formal consultation of interested parties when Directive 2002/2/EC was under negotiation in Brussels and when it was originally implemented into UK law. In addition, there have been several informal consultations with the feed industry on the implications of the legislation, as well as a more recent formal consultation on the draft Regulations which will reflect the ECJ's ruling in UK law. She also points out that the manufacturers' arguments were not accepted by the European Court of Justice, but that, in order to address industry's concerns, the Food Standards Agency will carry out a review of the effects of the legislation within six months of the making of national Regulations implementing the ECJ ruling. The results of this review will then support the UK's negotiating position during a review of EC feed labelling legislation, which the European Commission is expected to undertake in 2007.

Conclusion

21.7 Since the sole purpose of this proposal is to bring an earlier Directive into line with a ruling of the European Court of Justice, we see no need to withhold clearance. We are however drawing the measure to the attention of the House.


61   (20912) 5247/00; see HC 23-ix (1999-2000), para 3 (16 February 2000) and HC 23-xiii (1999-2000), para 27 (5 April 2000). Back

62   OJ NO. L 63, 6.3.2002, p.23. Back

63   Joined Cases C-453/03, C-11/04, C-12/04 and C-194-04 ABNA and Others. Back

64   79/373. Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 27 July 2006