Fighting undue barriers to trade in the EU is key to support growth and jobs
ICELAND: In February 2017, Iceland notified a draft law on the collection, recycling and deposit on non-reusable beverage packaging. This introduced specific requirements as regards the size and placement of the bar code and appears to ban porcelain or ceramic containers.
Iceland is a relatively small market and the consequences of introducing specific labelling requirements are substantial. Producers will normally supply goods on the basis of stock labelled in accordance with EU rules and which can therefore be sold in several markets. The introduction of market-specific rules introduces trade barriers and adds costs and complexities to the logistical operation.
The proposed new rule in Iceland would introduce placement and size requirements for the barcode which appears on labels. There are no such requirements in EU markets. Rather producers would determine the most suitable size and placement for the barcode, subject to it meeting normal trade and retail norms. One major supplier estimated that 85% of its labels would have to be changed to meet the proposed new rule in Iceland. It is entirely unclear why the proposal is thought necessary. Every EU country is able to accommodate labels affixed by producers without any difficulty. There is no justification as to why Iceland believes it requires a specific set of national rules.
A separate concern relates to what appears to be a ban on porcelain and ceramic containers. The draft law says that packaging subject to a deposit shall not be made of ceramic or porcelain, but it is not clear whether these materials are subject to a deposit. Whatever the situation, the proposed restriction / ban cannot be justified. There are many brands sold in porcelain or ceramic; this is entirely safe and legal. We do not believe that it is acceptable to limit or ban these fully valid and safe packaging materials.
ITALY: In April, Italy formally notified the Commission and other Member States that it had prepared draft legislation to require national producers to state the place of production of their foodstuffs on labels. This would apply both to Italian producers and, it seems, those from outside the EU/EEA/Turkey.
The proposal has been justified on the grounds of traceability but there are already 2 mechanisms in place for this under EU law: the details of the food business operator; and the lot code or batch number. Introducing another measure at national level seems wholly unnecessary and indeed the requirement to state 2 addresses could even cause confusion as to who is legally responsible for the product. The new rules would add costs and complexities to logistics and would discriminate against Italian producers. The measure would also set an unwelcome precedent which, if followed by other countries, would compartmentalise and complicate internal market trade. Moreover, given that the new measure is due to take effect 180 days after enactment, it would lead to huge wastage of current label and package stocks. Our formal comments on this entirely unwelcome proposal will shortly be added to the TRIS website. Stay tuned!