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C 76/54 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 11. 3.


(98/C 76/136) WRITTEN QUESTION P-1763/97

by Jan Mulder (ELDR) to the Commission
(14 May 1997)

Subject: Compulsory national labelling scheme for beef and veal in France

France has announce that as of 1 June 1997 beef and veal will be subject to compulsory labelling (in particular to
identify its origin). The Council of European Agriculture Ministers reached a policy agreement on 19 March
1997 on an EC Regulation on the identification and registration of bovine livestock and on the labelling of beef
and veal and beef and veal products. Article 19(5) of that regulation lays down the condition that a Member State
must obtain prior approval from the European Commission before introducing compulsory labelling. Nor may
any compulsory national labelling scheme lead to distortions in trade between Member States.

1. Has France sought the European Commission’s approval for introducing compulsory labelling as of 1 June
1997? If not, will the European Commission draw France’s attention to the requirement laid down in Article
19(5) of the forthcoming EC regulation?

2. If France has submitted such a scheme to the European Commission for its approval, will the Commission
grant its approval? If so, for what reasons?

3. Is the Commission aware whether other Member States have announced national labelling schemes?

4. If the Commission gives its approval for national labelling schemes, what action will it take to prevent
distortions in trade between Member States? Were such distortions to arise in practice, has the Commission
appropriate mechanisms at its disposal enabling it to intervene?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(4 July 1997)

1. As of 15 May 1997, France has sought the Commission's approval for introducing a compulsory labelling
scheme for beef in accordance with Directive 83/189 (1), relating to non-harmonised legislation established by a
Member State. This application was made before Council Regulation (EC) No 820/97 establishing a system for
the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products (2) was
adopted by the Council.

2. The Commission has informed France that Directive 83/189 concerns non-harmonised legislation
established by a Member State and therefore, regarding the labelling of beef, this directive is no longer applicable
since there are now harmonised Community rules for labelling of beef.

3. Up until 15 May 1997, no other Member States have announced the introduction of compulsory labelling
systems for beef.

4. Article 19 (4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 820/97 states that Member States where there is a sufficiently
developed identification and registration system for bovine animals may before 1 January 2000 impose a
compulsory labelling system for beef but only for animals born, fattened and slaughtered on their territory.
However, such a system shall require prior approval from the Commission and must not, according to Article
19 (5), lead to any disruptions of trade between the Member States.

According to Article 169 EC Treaty, if the Commission considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil an
obligation under the Treaty, it shall deliver a reasoned opinion on the matter after giving the Member State
concerned the opportunity to submit its observations. If the Member State does not comply with the opinion
within the period laid down by the Commission, the latter may bring the matter before the Court of justice.

(1) OJ L 109, 26.4.1983.

(2) OJ L 117, 7.5.1997.