EU chocolate directive faces fresh delays

Series Title
Series Details 22/02/96, Volume 2, Number 08
Publication Date 22/02/1996
Content Type

Date: 22/02/1996

By Michael Mann

THE long-disputed proposal

to update the EU chocolate directive has run into more problems, delaying a Commission discussion on the issue until mid-March at the earliest.

And many believe that the problems dogging the directive could delay a decision still longer.

Industry Commissioner Martin Bangemann's officials have been told to prepare reports on the economic impact of the plan to allow seven countries to continue using up to 5&percent; non-cocoa vegetable fats in their chocolate.

These will cover the effects of the plan on the economies of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to ensure the proposals are compatible with the Union's responsibilities under the International Cocoa Agreement.

They will also study the potential trade distortion if different EU countries market chocolate manufactured according to different rules. “Many Cabinets were unhappy that insufficient attention had been paid to the wider effects of the directive, though there was a feeling Bangemann could have dispelled this doubt if more precise figures had been included,” said one official.

The failure of the proposal to even reach the Commission college reflects the sensitivity of the issue, even though what Bangemann is proposing would basically maintain the status quo.

Officials are under pressure from lobbyists representing cocoa producers, who claim their livelihoods could be threatened by the proposal. Those on the other side of the fence point out that it would not alter the current situation and argue that account must be taken of countries producing the vegetable fats used as an alternative to cocoa.

The Commission is aware of the impossibility of persuading businesses to change recipes which may be decades old. There is also concern in those countries where cocoa substitutes are used that labelling requirements should in no way discriminate against their products.

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