Italy and Greece are to be hauled before the European Court of Justice over restrictions on the import of nutritional products and food supplements respectively.

The European Commission has launched cases against Italy, complaining that nutritional products intended mainly for sportsmen and sportswomen can only be sold there if approved under a special national prior authorisation procedure. This is illegal because it is applied to products imported from other EU countries where they are already legally marketed. Under European law, goods approved for sale in one Member State should be free to circulate throughout the EU.

The same law is being cited in the case against Greece, where Brussels is challenging its refusal of marketing authorisation for an imported food supplement called “Cantamega 1000” on the grounds that Athens did not have all the information needed to appraise it.  The authorities did not explain what information was missing even when they invited the company to try again five years later.

By Alan Osborn, correspondent