The European Dairy Association (EDA) has filed a formal complaint with the European Ombudsman over the European Commission’s decision to approve the trial launch by France of mandatory country-of-origin labels for certain dairy and processed meat products.

An EDA spokesperson told just-food today that it had lodged the complaint over the scheme, which is expected to run from 1 January 2017 until the end of 2018.

In the EDA’s letter of complaint, secretary general Alexander Anton stressed “the lack of transparency of the Commission regarding the decision on the French decree on mandatory origin labelling”. Civil society and stakeholders, despite several requests, have not been officially informed by the Commission of the decision on the French decree and on the justifications provided by France to support the introduction of national additional measures,” he said.

The move comes after the EDA previously accused the Commission of failing to defend “the core principles” of the EU, after France was given the green light last July for a two-year trial of mandatory country-of-origin labelling for meat and dairy ingredients used in processed food sold in the country. 

Anton said then that the French proposal had gone “viral across Europe” and had prompted similar measures in other EU nations. “This translates as the end of the single market principle for milk and dairy products,” Anton said.

Earlier this year, the Italian government signed a legislative decree making origin labels mandatory for milk and dairy products sold in Italy. The labels would note the country origin of their milk and where packaging and processing took place. Italy said the law was designed to protect Italy’s milk sector, which has suffered from falling prices, notably since EU production quotas were scrapped. 

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By GlobalData

In August, Lithuania said it too wanted to introduce the mandatory labelling of the origin of imported dairy products. Jolita Martutaityte, chief policy specialist at the Lithuanian ministry of agriculture, told just-food the scheme would mirror an origin control system that Lithuania has already introduced for honey, meat and wine. 

Last week, it was confirmed that the Commission is considering a request by Portugal for the introduction of the mandatory labelling of the origin of imported dairy products sold in the country. Portugal revealed its agriculture minister, Luís Capoulas Santos, was “negotiating” on the issue with EU officials.