Food and the French presidency: Part one

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Over the next six months the French presidency of the EU will be
operating in a tricky economic environment, with food prices are
soaring and supply issues are affecting major commodities.

In the first of two articles, FoodNavigator looks at its plans for the Common Agricualtural Policy, its spotlight in food safety, and pledge to drive progress on the novel foods regulation amendment and food information regulation. France took up the helm of the presidency of the EU on July 1 after Slovenia's stint. In the programme of works it plans to carry out, it cites food and health amongst the challenges that the EU has to respond to, alongside climate change, ecology, migration, and economic and financial matters. Food safety figures large in its plans, and at an informal meeting of Ministers of Agriculture in Annecy in September it says "particular stress will also be placed on the problem of food safety, animal health and the protection of plants."​ Topics up for review include progress on the pesticides package, food safety controls on imports of agricultural and agri-foodstuff products and reform of animal health policy. Food safety is placed squarely in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy. "Agriculture is at the heart of the issues confronting our society, and the sector currently faces many challenges, including ensuring the food security and safety of European consumers based on a regular, accessible supply of food whose quality is guaranteed, helping to achieve balanced global food supplies, combating climate change and improving the environment, and preserving the environmental balance within Europe,"​ the presidency states in its works programme. Working in close consultation with the European Parliament, the presidency has said it aims to adopt new CAP provisions by the end of 2008. Novel foods and labelling ​ The French presidency has said that it "will strive to reinforce the protection of consumers within the internal market".​ As part of this, it says it will seek to "further the proposal for a regulation on the provision of food information to consumers and an amendment to the regulation concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients." ​ In fact, the European Parliament last week published its draft report on amendments to the novel foods regulation, having made revisions to ensure better clarity. It has made changes to areas concerning definitions, data protection, traditional foods from third countries, penalties imposed by member states, and the authorisation procedure. Following a debate on the report in the environment committee, the deadline for amendments has been set as 8 October. Following this, there will be a debate on the amendments, which is currently scheduled for 4 November. As for the labelling regulation, a proposal published in January is understood to be under debate between the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. Furthering research ​ Although the French presidency will last only six months, it has its eye firmly on the future, with the planned launch of activities in the research area through to the year 2020. Food and agronomy will be one of the subjects of ministerial debate on challenges faced by European research, along with energy and climate change, health and ageing, and the information society. The full works programme document is can be accessed here​. Tomorrow, FoodNavigator will report on industry priorities for the French presidency, as set out by the Confederation of Food and Drink Industries in Europe (CIAA).

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