The European Commission has been accused of failing to defend “the core principles” of the EU, after giving France the green light for a two-year trial of mandatory country-of-origin labelling for meat and dairy ingredients used in processed food sold in the country. 

The European Dairy Association (EDA) said the Commission’s approval on 5 July of a draft decree on the labelling by France “clearly failed to protect the single market principle, which is from a political point of view a worst case scenario” for the EU.

EDA secretary general Alexander Anton said: “We have seen the French proposal going viral across Europe – the Italian government has already notified a draft decree and others will certainly follow the French example. This translates as the end of the single market principle for milk and dairy products.”

Anton said: “We are proud of the many dairies in border regions, most of which are rather small companies that have up to five EU member states in their milk collection area. They lived from the single market in producing high quality milk and dairy with milk from their geographical region, even if national borders go through their milk collection area. This will now be made very complicated, if not impossible.”

In March, the European Commission agreed in principle to France’s proposals. The measure was seen as a means of supporting French agriculture and promoting ‘made in France’ products, as well as addressing food safety issues in the wake of the so-called ‘horsegate’ scandal in parts of Europe in 2013.

FoodDrinkEurope claimed France’s plans would push up prices for consumers, reduce choice and could increase waste.

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