A view from the European Parliament
2015 has seen a busy start to the legislative calendar for Europe’s food and drink industry in the European Parliament. We have seen progress on a number of key files, in particular the revision of the Circular Economy Package, novel foods, a proposal on biofuels. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Package (TTIP) and mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) for meat in processed foods are described in more detail below.
In response to the Commission’s controversial withdrawal of the Circular Economy Package from their 2015 Work Programme at the end of 2014, MEPs on the Environment Committee have been preparing an own-initiative report, led by Finnish EPP MEP, Sirpa Pietikäinen, to send a clear signal to the Commission of the political importance of such a package and the Parliament’s desire to see it back on the table.
MEPs on the Environment Committee have also backed a proposal on the indirect land use change impacts of biofuels (ILUC), which looks at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from the growing use of agricultural land to produce biofuel crops. The committee has given the rapporteur of the proposal a mandate to conduct trialogue negotiations with a view to reaching an inter-institutional agreement on the issue ahead of the Plenary session in April. During these ongoing negotiations, the Parliament has, thus far, managed to resist the pressure from the member states to water down the proposal. However, the negotiators are now left with a limited time-frame if they are to come to an agreement.
The proposal for a Novel Foods regulation, which is currently before the Parliament and the Council, is of great importance to European food manufacturers. The two Institutions are struggling to agree on several key issues of the proposal; in particular animal cloning, nanomaterials, delegated acts as well as the introduction of a reference to the environment. Further talks have been scheduled for early-April to see if they can manage to come to an agreement.
Looking ahead, we see that TTIP will continue to dominate the Parliament’s agenda, particularly from the point of view of setting food safety standards. Food labelling and the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme will also be high on the list of priorities.