The European Commission has shelved its plan to ban refillable olive oil bottles on restaurant tables in the face of what it acknowledged as strong consumer opposition.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş said today he will meet with restaurant, hotel and consumer representatives in Brussels next week to come up with a better way to address quality issues with olive oil.

Cioloş made the announcement – described by some as an unprecedented backflip – at a press conference in Brussels during which he also faced questions about the power of the olive oil lobby and whether the u-turn was a nod to the “northern countries.”

He said the measure had been intended to help consumers. He decided to withdraw it after taking into account the number of strong positions against it in “consumer countries,” in other words countries where olive oil is not produced but is consumed.

It is not yet clear whether other measures in the same draft regulation covering the bottle ban will now also be put on ice, including stricter rules on labeling which appeared to have general support.

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