NEWSLETTER November 2013 Summary
Environment and Sustainability
FoodServiceEurope’s General Assembly (GA) took place on 29 November 2
FoodServiceEurope Board: New Vice-President elected
Advisory Group meeting: information on General Food Law evaluation and update on official controls legislative procedure 3
E3PO: New President and Secretary General elected
EU Policy Developments Food Policy
Official Controls: MEPs divided on to what extent industry should pay for inspection fees 4
Environment committee adopts report on fraud in the food supply chain. 4
Socialist MEPs call for EU ban on artificial trans fats 5
FoodServiceEurope attends the Brussels Tax Forum
SCP Round Table adopts framework to assess environmental impact of food
FoodServiceEurope adopts food waste position, calls for best practice examples 2 EU Platform session of 26 November 2013 focused on physical activity, but broader general updates were also provided
European Commission fines four North Sea shrimps traders € 28 million for price fixing cartel 6 General Interest
Greek Presidency priorities marked by economic and financial crisis, giving special emphasis to the social dimension of EU policy 7
FoodServiceEurope Activity FoodServiceEurope’s General Assembly (GA) took place on 29 November FoodServiceEurope’s GA took place on 29 November 2013 in Brussels. Draft minutes and presentations will be circulated shortly.
* FoodServiceEurope Board: New Vice-President elected During the General Assembly that took place in Brussels on 26 November, Zsolt Párkai was unanimously elected Vice-President of FoodServiceEurope. Mr Parkai succeeds Michel Franceschi who was member of FoodServiceEurope’s Board since 2008. Zsolt Párkai is Sodexo Europe’s CEO for Emerging Markets (On-Site Services). With a degree in Civil Engineering from the Technical University of Budapest and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, Mr Parkai joined Sodexo in 1997 where he has held various managing positions. In his current role, he is in charge of the following countries: Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey. FoodServiceEurope warmly thanks Michel Franceschi for his dedication and valuable contribution for the work of our association and welcomes Zzolt Parkai as our new VicePresident.
* FoodServiceEurope adopts food waste position, calls for best practice examples At the General Assembly on 29 November, FoodServiceEurope adopted an internal position paper on food waste to feed into the EU-funded FUSIONS food waste project and forthcoming debates around the EU Sustainable Food Communication (expected Q2 2014). A briefing document on Food Waste in the Contract Catering Sector was also launched. FoodServiceEurope is collecting good practices in the contract catering sector on food waste prevention with the intention of submitting them to the European Commission’s database of good practices. Food waste will be the main focus of the Sustainable Food Communication. Regarding food services, the Communication could suggest that the EU develop Guidance for Public and Private Purchasing on Food Waste Reduction / Delivering Sustainable Food Services. Some NGOs, such as WWF, want the focus of the Communication to be broader than food waste, and are pushing for actions aimed at reducing meat consumption. Members will receive shortly a copy of the internal position paper and briefing document on food waste.
EU Platform session of 26 November 2013 focused on physical activity, but broader general updates were also provided During the Plenary session of 26 November the Chair updated members on the Action Plan on Childhood Obesity being developed within the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity. He informed that Platform members will be invited to propose actions to help achieving the operational objectives of the Action Plan, which is to be endorsed at the Greek Presidency Conference on Nutrition and Physical Activity (25-26 February in Athens). IBF International Consulting also presented a practical guidance paper on monitoring and reporting, which was welcome by the EU Platform members. FoodServiceEurope will take this paper into account in preparing the report to be presented end of January 2014.
* Advisory Group meeting: information on General Food Law evaluation and update on official controls legislative procedure The plenary meeting of the Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health took place in Brussels on 22 November. The Commission informed stakeholders of the scope and procedure it intends to follow on the evaluation of the General Food Law. Discussions focused as well on the stage of proceedings in the EP concerning the proposed Regulation on Official Controls. On this occasion the Commission also provided an update on the actions on rules of origin under Regulation 1169/201, on the work of the food antifraud task force within the Commission and regarding the upgrading of enforcement of EU rules in the area of nutrition and health claims. For more details on the points discussed please contact the Secretariat.
* E3PO: New President and Secretary General elected During the last General Assembly that took place on 14 November, Mr. Bernard Hagelsteen, advisor to the President of Vinci Autoroutes, was appointed Chairman of E3PO, succeeding Jean-Pierre Tardieu. Valérie Plainemaison, General Secretary of EFIEES, was appointed General Secretary of E3PO and will thereby succeed Pierre-François Kuhn. Mr. Jean-Pierre Tardieu and Mr. Pierre-François Kuhn will both remain in office until 31 December 2013. On this occasion it was also agreed the Study on the competition distortions between the public and the private sectors would be carried out and commissioned to Copenhagen Economics. Contract catering will be one of the sectors covered specifically and FoodServiceEurope will be member of the Steering Group that will follow closely the work to be developed by the consultancy. E3PO will also respond to the public consultation the Commission has launched on VAT legislation on public bodies and tax exemptions in the public interest and FoodServiceEurope will contribute to that work as well. 3
EU Policy Developments
FOOD POLICY Official Controls: MEPs divided on to what extent industry should pay for inspection fees During November, the rapporteur in the leading EP Committee on the Commission proposal on official controls (the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee) presented its Draft Report. In parallel, the rapporteur of the Agriculture and Rural Development committee that is associated to this procedure also presented it’s the draft opinion, and further amendments by other MEPs in this Committee have been presented as well. The main points being discussed are, as expected, the scope of the Regulation, the provisions on mandatory fees and the powers of the Commission through implementing acts. Regarding in particular the provision imposing mandatory fees, the texts proposed by the rapporteurs of the ENVI report and AGRI opinion do not question the mandatory nature of the fees in itself and are actually proposing to further limit the exception for microenterprises or to delete it entirely. The draft ENVI report, nonetheless, excludes the application of fees to the primary production level. Some MEPs within the relevant Committees, however, do not agree with the imposition at EU level of mandatory fees. For example, Spanish centre-right MEPs in the AGRI Committee have proposed the deletion of the mandatory nature of the fees, justified by the fact that “the application of fees should be optional on the part of the Member States, given that there is no fiscal harmonisation at European level”. The vote of the legislative report by the ENVI committee is scheduled for 30 January 2014.
* Environment committee adopts report on fraud in the food supply chain. On November 27 2013, the European Parliament’s committee on the environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) unanimously adopted the draft report from Esther de Lange (EPP, NL) on the food crisis, fraud in the food chain and the control thereof. The report highlights the absence of a clear definition of “food fraud “and calls the Commission to adopt a harmonized definition based on the following elements: a) Noncompliance with food law and/or misleading the consumer (including the omission of product information); b) intent and potential financial gain and/or competitive advantage. Foods such as olive oil, fish, organic products, grains, honey, coffee, tea, spices, wine, certain fruit juices, milk and meat are identified as being often subject to fraudulent activities (i.e. replacing key ingredients with lower quality alternatives, incorrect labelling, counterfeiting and marketing food past its ‘use-by’ date etc.). 4
Despite acknowledging that origin labelling would have not prevented the recent horse meat scandal, MEPs call on the Commission to rapidly provide for mandatory labelling of fresh meat from swine, sheep, goats and poultry and to adopt legislative proposals making the indication of the origin of meat in processed foods mandatory. With regards to controls, MEPs call for a change in attitude within competent authorities, moving from an administrative and veterinary approach towards a policing approach, based on the Danish and Italian systems. Moreover, coordination between the national authorities responsible for investigating food fraud should be improved. Finally concerning sanctions, MEPs welcome the Commission proposal on official controls which aims at strengthening penalties in order at least to offset the estimated economic advantage sought through the violation, but consider that this measure to be not dissuasive enough: Member States should set penalties for food fraud which are at least double the estimated amount of the economic advance sought through the fraudulent activity. Moreover, as an extra deterrent, Member States should set also criminal law penalties, for fraudulent cases in which public health is deliberately endangered, or in case of fraud with products aimed at vulnerable consumers. Finally, in the event of repeated offences, the food business operator’s registration should be withdrawn.
* Socialist MEPs call for EU ban on artificial trans fats On 5 November the European Parliament’s committee on the environment, public health and food safety organised a seminar on the health effects of trans fats and possible legislative solutions. Socialist MEPs Glenis Willmott (UK) and Christel Schaldemose (DK) strongly called on the Commission to propose a ban on artificial trans fats along the lines of existing legislation in Denmark. The scientific evidence is clear, they said, adding that the Danish ban showed that 4,500 lives had been saved out of a population of five million. Denmark and Austria already have legislation banning artificial trans fat and Hungary has recently notified similar measures. Furthermore, it looks like Sweden will also introduce similar measures in the future. However, the Commission’s Health DG representative Stephanie Bodenbach underlined that the Commission had to thoroughly investigate all the evidence before producing the report required by 13 December 2014 under the Food Information Regulation which could be accompanied by a legislative proposal only “if appropriate”.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY SCP Round Table adopts framework to assess environmental impact of food On 20 November 2013, the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Round Table adopted during its plenary meeting, the ENVIFOOD Protocol, a harmonized framework methodology to assess the environmental impact of food products. Following public consultation and pilot testing of the nineteen participants involved (including companies, sectoral associations, academia and others), the Round Table adopted the final methodology for the ENVIFOOD Protocol. The Protocol is the culmination of a process which started in 2009 with the adoption of 10 Guiding Principles. The Protocol lays the ground for the upcoming Commission Environmental Footprint methodology pilots for food and drink products, to be launched in 2014 and in which the Round Table will play an active role.
TAXATION FoodServiceEurope attends the Brussels Tax Forum The 7th annual Brussels Tax Forum took place on 18 November 2013 under the heading “An efficient VAT System”. Overall, there was consensus among academics, stakeholders and the Commission that an efficient VAT system is broad-based, with as few reduced rates and exemptions as possible. Social, environmental and other concerns can be dealt with via other fiscal instruments. Exemptions and reduced rates were also linked to VAT fraud and the widening gap in VAT collection due to the complexity they introduce into the system. In view of the above, FoodServiceEurope used the opportunity to reiterate the sector’s concern over public sector exemptions and to suggest that eliminating exemptions should be prioritised over restructuring of the rates. The creation of a standard VAT return was also discussed. While the idea was supported in principle, some businesses fear that in practice it may in fact complicate VAT documentation, particularly in the absence of a harmonised auditing system.
COMPETITION LAW European Commission fines four North Sea shrimps traders € 28 million for price fixing cartel The Commission has fined four European North Sea shrimps traders a total of € 28 716 000 for operating a cartel in breach of EU antitrust rules. The companies are Heiploeg, Klaas Puul, Kok Seafood (all of the Netherlands) and Stührk (of Germany). The cartel took the form of a range of informal bilateral contacts and the discussions usually covered a wide range of aspects of their business, including their purchase prices from fishermen, conduct towards other traders on the market, market sharing, and prices charged to specific important customers that often set the benchmark price for other customers. 6
The cartel affected the EU market and sales in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands in particular. Any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages.
GENERAL INTEREST Greek Presidency priorities marked by economic and financial crisis, giving special emphasis to the social dimension of EU policy On 29 November 2013, Ambassador Theodoros Sotiropoulos presented in Brussels the priorities of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union that will start in January 2014. The current economic and financial crisis has induced the Greek Presidency to work towards safeguarding the common currency, deepening the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and dealing with recession and unemployment, as well as with migration issues. The first priority is the full and effective implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs, including: implementing the initiative to tackle youth unemployment; promoting labour market mobility; advancing talks with the U.S. and other strategic partners on a free trade agreement and taking action to address the social impact of the crisis. The second priority of the Greek Presidency is the deepening of the EMU, including advance negotiations on the banking union and put forward legislative measures to tackle issues concerning tax fraud and tax evasion, as well as the Financial Transactions Tax. The third priority is the efficient tackling of illegal immigration, while safeguarding respect for human rights, the promotion of legal migration and mobility, as well as synergies between migration and development. Finally, the Greek Presidency aims to introduce a horizontal thematic running across the three priorities, namely EU Maritime Policy to redefine and re-launch it in all its aspects.