Lack of a deal on the future of the International Olive Council (IOC) means the treaty governing it is likely to be prolonged a year beyond its December 31 expiry.
The European Commission favors asking the IOC Council of Members to extend the 2005 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives to allow more time for negotiation, Commission documents show.
Talks on a new deal have been confidential, however both the Commission and its olive oil advisory group have flagged support for new rules letting countries that are olive oil consumers, but not producers, join the IOC.
The Commission estimates its contribution to the IOC budget for the one-year extension of the multilateral agreement would be €3.8 million ($5.1m).
The Commission received a mandate from the Council of the European Union (EU) last November authorizing it to open talks on behalf of the EU – an IOC member – for the conclusion of a new treaty. According to a Commission memorandum, it is seeking council authorization to ask the IOC Council of Members for a 12-month extension of the 2005 agreement because “Progress is such that it is now certain that the deadline of 31 December 2014 for the conclusion of an agreement cannot be met.” The IOC Council of Members can prolong the agreement “for not more than two periods of up to two years each.”
The Commission said the olive oil and table olives treaty “fosters cooperation; contributes to the development and stability of markets; and contributes to the EU’s objectives relating to trade and agricultural policy.”
According to a separate explanatory memorandum by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the agreement “also contributes to the protection of consumers from fraud through the commissioning of research into laboratory techniques to detect adulteration of olive oil and through the accreditation and benchmarking of laboratories carrying out testing of olive oil.”
Noting the EU is the largest producer and consumer of olive oil in the world, it said being a member of the IOC “enables the EU to pursue the development of the international markets for olive oil and table olives and to defend its interests with regard to these products.”
Defra said the proposal is likely to be considered and possibly adopted by the Council of the EU in September. The 102nd session of the IOC Council of Members is due to take place in Madrid November 10-13.