FOOD SAFETY IN THE EU

Every European citizen has the right to know how the food he eats is produced, processed, packaged, labelled and sold. The central goal of the European Commission’s Food Safety policy is to ensure a high level of protection of human health regarding the food industry — Europe’s largest manufacturing and employment sector. The Commission’s guiding principle, primarily set out in its White Paper on Food Safety, is to apply an integrated approach from farm to fork covering all sectors of the food chain.1

Ensuring safe food from farm to fork

Health protection is the aim of all EU laws and standards in the agriculture, animal husbandry and food production sectors. An extensive body of EU-wide law covers the entire food production and processing chain within the EU, as well as imported and exported goods.2

EU countries implement these harmonised standards and establish controls to enforce them. The EU audits the application and effectiveness of the laws and controls, and also provides training to the responsible EU and international authorities.3

EU food safety policy and action is concentrated in 4 main areas of protection:

* Food hygiene: food businesses, from farms to restaurants, must comply with EU food law, including those importing food to the EU.

* Animal health: sanitary controls and measures for pets, farmed animals and wildlife monitor and manage diseases, and trace the movement of all farm animals.

* Plant health: detection and eradication of pests at an early stage prevents spreading and ensures healthy seeds.

* Contaminants and residues: monitoring keeps contaminants away from food and animal feed. Maximum acceptable limits apply to domestic and imported food and feed products.4

Food Hygiene

Rules on hygiene of foodstuffs were adopted in April 2004 by the European Parliament and the Council […]. They became applicable on 1 January 2006.5

The 2004 rules merged, harmonised and simplified detailed and complex hygiene requirements previously contained in a number of Council Directives covering the hygiene of foodstuffs and the production and placing on the market of products of animal origin.

The rules in place since 2006 innovate in making a single, transparent hygiene policy applicable to all food and all food operators right through the food chain (“from farm to fork”), together with effective instruments to manage food safety and any future food crises throughout the food chain.

A Commission report (2009) recounts the experience gained, including the difficulties encountered (in 2006, 2007 and 2008) from the implementation of the hygiene package by all interested actors. It does not suggest any detailed solutions to the difficulties reported and is, therefore, not accompanied by proposals.

1Food safety, European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/food/overview_en (page visited on 17/12/2019)

2Food safety in the EU, European Union. https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/food-safety_en (page visited on 17/12/2019)

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Food Hygiene, European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/biosafety/food_hygiene_en (page visited on 17/12/2019)

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level. The Members of the European Parliament are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically. The Parliament represents the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world. The President of the European Parliament (Parliament’s speaker) is David Sassoli (elected in July 2019).

European Parliament in Strasbourg

The Committees of the European Parliament

In order to do the preparatory work for Parliament’s plenary sittings, the Members are divided up among a number of specialised standing committees. There are 20 parliamentary committees that meet once or twice a month in Brussels and whose debates are held in public.

Languages, translation and interpretation

Speakers in the European Parliament are entitled to speak in any of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Simultaneous interpreting is offered in all plenary sessions, and all final texts of legislation are translated. With twenty-four languages, the European Parliament is the most multilingual parliament in the world and the biggest employer of interpreters in the world. Citizens may also address the Parliament in Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician.

Plenary

Plenary sittings are chaired by the President of the European Parliament. The President of the European Parliament is assisted in this task by the 14 vice-presidents, who can take over the chair. The President opens the sitting, sometimes with a tribute or a speech on a current topic. Parliament is in fact constantly concerned to respond to the latest developments in any major issue and has no hesitation in changing its agenda in order to call on the Union to act. The President’s influence can be decisive in this respect.

European Parliament 2019

References

About Parliament. European Parliament, web: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en (page visited on 09/12/2019)

Wikipedia, European Parliament, web: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament (page visited on 09/12/2019)