|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.20, 17.5.01, p4|
HEALTH Commissioner David Byrne wants member states to be stripped of their right to vote individually on international food protection rules in favour of a 'bloc vote' for the European Commission.
His plan is for Europe to "speak with one voice" when the United Nations and World Health Organisation draw up joint rules on food standards.
But the move is causing disquiet on both sides of the Atlantic.
Some officials in Europe see it as an attack on individual member states' sovereignty.
Others in the US believe Byrne has another motive - to get the Union's so-called "precautionary principle" accepted worldwide.
They claim he wants the principle - that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety - to be written into the rules applied by the joint food-standards body known as the codex alimentarius.
America is fiercely opposed to the principle, saying it is nothing more than an excuse to block free trade. They won support on the issue in 1997, when the World Trade Organisation ruled against the EU after it attempted to use the principle to justify a ban on US hormone beef imports.
Member states are also hostile to Byrne's plans, but insiders say they are less worried about losing their voting rights than they are about losing their right to have a say.
They point out that disputes at codex meetings are usually resolved through negotiations rather than balloting. In a compromise deal tabled by member states, the Commission would get its block vote, while they would still have the right to speak.
Both proposals are due to be discussed at the next meeting of the Rome-based codex alimentarius in July.
"Byrne thinks that if the Community speaks with one voice then its views would have a greater impact," said a codex insider.
Heatlh Commissioner, David Byrne, wants member states to be stripped of their right to vote individually on international food protection rules in favour of a 'bloc vote' for the European Commission.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|