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Legal metrology and pre-packaging

Pre-packaging - Pack sizes

Adaptation of EU law on Pack Size

Directive 2007/45/EC was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council and its provisions apply from 11 April 2009.

From that date, only EU sizes apply for wine and spirits and national sizes were abolished for all products.

Exceptions are allowed for a limited number of sectors where existing national sizes continue to be required for production from domestic producers if the Member State involved notified the Commission services (milk, butter, dried pasta and coffee until 11 October 2012 and white sugar until 11 October 2013).
Directive 2007/45/EC amends the scope of Directive 76/211/EEC to include metrological requirements for pre-packed liquids (previously in Directive 75/106/EEC).

History of the proposal

Consumer products such as detergents, pet food, ice cream, frozen food, low alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, cleaning products, paints, shampoo, toothpaste…etc are sold in quantities that have been determined by national or by Community law. This regulation dates from the 70s, when rules on quantities in which products could be sold were thought to protect consumers and to be necessary if products were to be sold throughout the EU.

However, since then, the legal framework for consumer protection has significantly developed:

And, today, it gives a better protection than rules on quantities. Furthermore, over the last decades demography has changed significantly: consumer tastes are more diverse, families are becoming smaller and more citizens live as singles. Finally, new products are placed on the market that do not fit with traditional product categories, until now subject to regulation: mixtures of soft and alcoholic drinks, concentrated washing tablets, sweeteners sold in capsules, mixtures of yoghurt, fruit and cheese, etc.

Based on an impact assessment (Commission staff working document - SEC(2004) 1298 ), the Commission presented a Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down rules on nominal quantities for pre-packed products, repealing Council Directives 75/106/EEC and 80/232/EEC, and amending Council Directive 76/211/EEC (COM(2004) 708 pdf български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) ) of 25 October 2004) to abolish national and Community rules that determine sizes in which consumer products can be sold, with the exception of the wine, spirits, soluble coffee and white sugar sectors where a specific impact assessment (Report on the extended impact assessment of sectors asking for fixed sizes - "Pack sizes in the EU") indicated that there could be reason to maintain sizes most sold to consumers as mandatory.

On-line consultation (November 2002 - February 2003)

Between 8 November 2002 and 31 January 2003, the Enterprise Directorate-General held a public Internet consultation in 11 languages with consumers, producers and retailers, following the Commission's new minimum consultation standards. The parties were asked to give their views on maintaining existing pre-packaging legislation on fixed sizes or allowing free pack sizes.

A Commission staff working paper setting out the key issues served as the main background paper:

Large publicity was given to the launch of the consultation and an estimated 5000 hits were recorded during its 10 week duration. The consultation included an inter-active online discussion forum, which received 85 contributions, mostly from producers, and an on-line survey with over 500 completed questionnaires, mostly from consumers. The public consultation was not aimed to be representative, but rather to collect new ideas and arguments. The survey consisted of questions formulated by the Commission services, while the forum allowed respondents to contribute as they liked.

Background documents

Views of consumers on pack sizes:

Others documents:

Legislation

Directive 2007/45/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 laying down rules on nominal quantities for prepacked products, repealing Council Directives 75/106/EEC and 80/232/EEC, and amending Council Directive 76/211/EEC

Council Directive 76/211/EEC of 20 January 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the making-up by weight or by volume of certain prepackaged products

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