Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System

Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System

Since 2015, members of the EU Food Fraud Network exchange information within the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC) system.

The AAC is the information technology system developed and managed by the European Commission for EU countries to exchange data in a structured manner regarding non-compliances and potential intentional violations of the EU agri-food chain legislation. Implementing Decision 2015/1918 details all the rules for the functioning of the administrative assistance and cooperation procedure.

The AAC system contains two parts:

  • one part dedicated to every request for Administrative Assistance and Cooperation which does not present profiles of human or animal risks, health risks and/or suspicion of potential intentional violations of the EU agri-food chain legislation

The AAC system works in parallel with the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), operational since 1979. It enables information to be shared efficiently and allows swift reaction when risks to public health are detected in the food chain.

The AAC system is a tool for an EU country to rapidly contact the competent authorities of another EU country and share information which can lead to administrative actions and/or sanctions or judicial proceedings. The AAC system is a "good tool" for the most efficient choice:

  • for many intentional violations of the EU agri-food chain legislation, administrative sanctions may be sufficient or more effective than judicial sanctions
  • an administrative sanction can often be decided and executed without delay, therefore avoiding lengthy and difficult procedures and addressing an immediate risk for the consumer
  • administrative proceedings offer a broader range of sanctions: fines, seizure or destruction of products and suspension/withdrawal of EU agreements
  • criminal prosecution can be sought for major files but requires solid dossiers, since they are competing with other highly pressing criminal investigations such as human trafficking, gun trafficking, murder, terrorism, etc.

Annual Reports

As an example, products sold as extra virgin olive oil but which did not meet EU standards and of inferior quality were being distributed to restaurants and the retail trade in the United Kingdom. The products were imported from Spain. Following a request from the United Kingdom addressed to Spain in the AAC-Food Fraud, actions were initiated by the Spanish competent authorities against the food business operator for a possible fraud.

Spanish olive oil fraud

The AAC system works on a voluntary basis and only for cross-border issues. Thus, the number of exchanges in the system neither represents the entirety of non-compliances (unintentional violation of the EU food and feed legislation) nor the entirety of food fraud incidents (intentional violation of the EU food and feed legislation) occurring in the EU:

  • 1153 requests and information were launched in the AAC-Non Compliance in 2018 (85 in 2016, 602 in 2017)
  • 234 requests for cooperation were launched in the AAC-Food Fraud in 2018 between the members of the EU Food Fraud Network (178 in 2017 and 157 in 2016). Requests for assistance and cooperation concern all product categories.

Requests for assistance and cooperation created per year
AAC-Food Fraud requests created per year

Number of requests in the AAC-Food Fraud per product category in 2018
Top 10 categories in the AAC-Food Fraud in 2018

Types of requests per type of violation in the AAC-Food Fraud in 2018
Type of suspected violations in the AAC-Food Fraud in 2018