Europe

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

Nov. 11, 2013
By Julie Butler

Recent News

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

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.