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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 2 July 2001

Priorities for Health and Consumer Protection during the Belgian Presidency

Commissioner David Byrne is responsible for issues related to food safety, public health and consumer protection.


European Food Authority - After the formal adoption of the Common Position, and the second reading in the EP, the Council is expected to adopt the proposal for a Regulation on general principles for food law and establishing a European Food Authority. This is with the objective of allowing arrangements to be made so that the Authority can start its operations early in 2002 in accordance with the declarations of the Nice and Göteborg European Councils.

GMO - The Internal Market/Consumer/Tourism and Environment Councils will start discussing a package of proposals to be presented by the Commission on genetically modified organisms, including new rules on labelling and traceability, new rules for the authorisation of GM feed and updated rules for the authorisation of GM food and food ingredients.

Safety of animal Feed - The final adoption of the Regulation on animal by-products, or animal materials not intended for human consumption, is a top priority. A Common Council Position on this key legislation to secure the safety of animal feed and prevent contamination of animal feed by BSE, dioxin etc. should be formally adopted as early as July, to be followed by the second reading in the EP.


Food Hygiene - Substantial progress should be made and possibly a Common Position adopted later in the year on the hygiene regulations proposed by the Commission in July 2000. The first reading in the EP is expected in October. The proposals, contained in 4 regulations, represent a radical shake up of food safety hygiene rules, making food operators right through the food chain bear primary responsibility for food safety. They also put in place effective instruments to manage food safety and any future food crises. The focus is on setting objectives while leaving business flexibility in deciding the safety measures to take, rather than prescribing them in great detail.


Hormones used as growth promoters for cattle - The Commission expects the Council to make progress towards the adoption of a common position on a proposal prohibiting the use of certain hormones that pose a risk to consumer health when used as growth promoters in cattle.


New proposals on food safety - The Commission is to present a series of new proposals in follow-up to the White Paper on Food Safety of January 2000 on which the Council is expected to have orientation debates. They include:

- a proposal for a revised directive on zoonoses, including notably measures to control salmonella;

- a proposal for a regulation harmonising and reinforcing official controls in the area of foodstuffs and feedingstuffs;

- a proposal to phase out the use of four remaining antibiotics authorised for use in animal feed;

- a proposal for a strategy to reduce the presence of dioxin in feed and food.

Animal health - In the area of animal health the Commission is to present a proposal revising the directive on measures to control foot-and-mouth disease, drawing on the experience of the recent outbreak. The Belgian Presidency is expected to organise a conference on FMD, as discussed in the April Agriculture Council. The Commission expects the Council to adopt a common position on the proposal for a regulation facilitating travel with pets in the EU, and in particular harmonising health requirements with respect to rabies.

Animal Welfare - The presentation of further legislative initiatives on animal transport, as sought in the Council Resolution of June 2001, will be subject to the availability of scientific advice, in particular on densities and travel times. A proposal on better ventilation and humidity controls in animal transport trucks is also proceeding. The Commission is to present a report on animal welfare provisions in third countries.


Tobacco - Depending on the progress made by the European Parliament, the Health Council of 15 November is to adopt a political agreement and/or Common Position on the proposal for a Directive on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship. The proposal was put forward by the Commission recently.


Safety of Blood - The Council is expected to adopt a Common Position on the proposed Directive setting high standards for the safety of blood and blood products.


Action Programme on Public Health - The Commission will hope to have the action programme on public health being adopted which is a cornerstone of its future approach to public health determinants.


Financial services - The adoption of a Common Position on the proposed directive on the distance selling of financial services is a key task for the Belgian Presidency. The Directive sets EU-wide standards for selling contracts for life insurance, pension plans etc. by phone, fax or internet, in line with those already applicable to all other retail sectors. It will prohibit abusive marketing practices and restrict others, oblige providers to give consumers comprehensive information before a contract is concluded and gives consumers the right to cancel a contract during a cool-off period.

Fair Trading - The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on a Green Paper to be presented by the Commission setting out options for improving and updating consumer protection rules with respect to unfair trading practices at Community level.

Euro - The Commission will continue to monitor and report to Council on the state of play in the Member States with regard to preparing consumers for the introduction of euro coins and notes as of January 2002.

Released on 02/07/2001


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