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AGRICULTURE : FRUIT AND VEGETABLE MARKETING STANDARDS TO BE MADE SIMPLER.

By the end of this year, specific marketing standards for fruit and vegetables in the EU - relating to size, shape and appearance - will be repealed for products intended for processing. The proposal was presented by the European Commission as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. It was put to a preliminary vote, on 22 July, in the Council's Committee of Agriculture Experts but a qualified majority did not emerge either for or against the proposal. If this vote is confirmed officially in the Council of Ministers, after consultation of the EU's trading partners, the Commission itself will take responsibility for abolishing the standards.

The member states would be able to exempt fruit and vegetables intended for processing from existing marketing standards if their labelling clearly states product intended for processing'. Such products could be either misshapen or under-sized and could be used by consumers for cooking or salads, for example. The Commission notes that the proposal is meant to cut red tape and simplify regulations. In this period of high food prices, it is also a way of keeping such products from being thrown away or destroyed.

Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU's commissioner for agriculture and rural development, commented that it is not the European Union's job to regulate these things. "It is far better to leave it to market operators. It will also cut down on unnecessary waste and benefit consumers."

The proposal would maintain marketing standards for ten products that make up 75% of the value of EU trade: apples, citrus fruit, kiwis, lettuce, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes. The member states could even exempt these products from the standards if they are sold with an appropriate label.

THE LIST

The proposal would abolish specific standards for 26 products: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, watermelons and chicory, while setting new general minimum standards for the marketing of fruit and vegetables.

For practical reasons, the date for the entry into force of all these changes has been set at 1 July 2009.

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Publication:European Report
Date:Jul 24, 2008
Words:369
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