` EU Olive Oil Sector Eager for Details of New School Promotion Plan

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EU Olive Oil Sector Eager for Details of New School Promotion Plan

Nov. 11, 2013
By Julie Butler

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A plan to pro­mote olive oil and table olives in schools in the E.U. is among mat­ters likely to be dis­cussed at the next meet­ing of the Euro­pean Commission’s Advi­sory Group on Olives and Derived Prod­ucts.

To be held in Brus­sels on Novem­ber 13, the meet­ing is also likely to include brief­ings from the Com­mis­sion on its plan to toughen olive oil label rules and its free trade talks with the United States.

The group’s chair­man, Rafael Sánchez de Puerta Díaz, said the agenda had yet to be final­ized but would prob­a­bly also include var­i­ous reports on the olive oil mar­ket and updated fore­casts for the cur­rent har­vest.

Pro­mot­ing olive oil in E.U. schools

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Span­ish Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment pushed for the new farm pol­icy for the E.U. to pro­vide for a school olive oil and table olives pro­gram. They suc­ceeded in win­ning a pro­vi­sion in the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy (CAP) for 2014 – 2020 for a vol­un­tary school scheme with sim­i­lar fund­ing to that of exist­ing ones pro­mot­ing con­sump­tion of dairy prod­ucts and fruit and veg­eta­bles.

Sánchez said advi­sory group had sought an update from the Com­mis­sion on the scheme, which would prob­a­bly not start until 2015.

Fate of plans to require clearer label infor­ma­tion

Sánchez said the group had also asked the Com­mis­sion to explain its plans re promised changes to olive oil label­ing laws.

Require­ments for clearer label infor­ma­tion, and for tougher penal­ties for and more checks on mis­la­bel­ing, were part of a draft E.U. reg­u­la­tion that was with­drawn at the last minute in May amid con­tro­versy over one of its other pro­vi­sions — a ban on refill­able olive oil con­tain­ers on restau­rant tables.

Sánchez said nobody had ques­tioned the rest of the draft reg­u­la­tion and the group wanted to know if the Com­mis­sion planned to pro­ceed with it, albeit with­out the refill­able con­tainer ban.

We think it should go ahead but so far the Com­mis­sion hasn’t said it there will be a new reg­u­la­tion,” he said.

E.U. — U.S. trade rela­tions

Sánchez said the group also awaited a brief­ing from the Com­mis­sion on its reac­tion to the report on com­pe­ti­tion in the global olive oil trade released in Sep­tem­ber by the United States Inter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion (USITC).

The group wanted to know what the Com­mis­sion was doing to fol­low up on the report, which said a lot of things which we don’t agree with.”

Sánchez said the report had sug­gested — in a generic way, with­out being too spe­cific — that Euro­pean olive oil had qual­ity prob­lems.”

It had referred on var­i­ous occa­sions to tests that had not been accepted by the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil as qual­ity cri­te­ria, namely those of DAGs (dia­cyl­glyc­erols) and PPPs (pyropheo­phytins), he said.

And it had also ques­tioned the income sup­port pro­vided to olive oil pro­duc­ers by the E.U. when the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion had accepted this as not dis­tort­ing the mar­ket.

Sánchez said the USITC report had been pre­pared for com­mer­cial rea­sons, to defend its (U.S.) pro­duc­tion from Euro­pean pro­duc­tion” and intro­duce a trade bar­rier in the mar­ket.”

As its release coin­cided with the cur­rent free trade nego­ti­a­tions between the U.S. and the E.U., the group wanted to know what posi­tion the Com­mis­sion was tak­ing in the talks in rela­tion to olive oil, what it saw as the likely reper­cus­sions of the USITC report, and what it was doing about them, he said.

The USITC report was pro­duced at the request of the U.S. House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee. Such so-called §332 inves­ti­ga­tions are often fol­lowed by U.S. trade actions, such as lim­it­ing imports.

Last Novem­ber, E.U. Trade Com­mis­sioner Karel De Gucht said that the Com­mis­sion was mon­i­tor­ing debate about a pos­si­ble U.S. mar­ket­ing order for olive oil, a mea­sure that he said would cause unfair delays and costs if also applied to importers.



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