27 July 2015
Article by Katy Orford, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
The European Commission’s proposals to allow Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of genetically modified (GM) food and feed in their own territory face a difficult passage through the European Institutions.
This blog post follows on from a previous post on the GM food and feed proposals and provides an update of the current status of the dossier. For further information on the proposals see our EU Policy Update (PDF, 266KB).
The proposals are being considered by the European Institutions under the ordinary legislative procedure. Following widespread concerns the proposals risk being pulled.
Council of the European Union
Member State representatives of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council expressed strong concerns (PDF, 352KB) regarding the workability of the proposals during a debate on 13 July 2015. There was concern that the proposals lacked legal clarity and would not actually allow Member States to adopt restrictive or prohibitive measures on a strong legal basis. There was suggestion that the proposal would raise problems regarding compatibility with the internal market and World Trade Organisation rules. Austria, Denmark and Belgium argued that a common approach at EU as regards GM should be maintained.
The majority of Member States criticised the absence of impact assessment accompanying the proposal; they called on the Commission to carry out an impact assessment to enable them to examine the proposal reasonably.
MEPs of the Environment Committee recommended rejection of the proposals during a debate held on 16 July 2016. The chair of the Committee and Rapporteur on the dossier, Giovanni La Via, has drafted a report calling for the outright rejection of the proposals. The Rapporteur noted that all political groups are very sceptical over the proposals. Shadow Rapporteurs supported the Draft Report on the grounds that: the proposal would not provide sufficient legal certainty to Member States that wish to take measures to ban GM food and feed; would fragment the internal market; and would not be compatible with WTO rules.
MEP Eickhout (Greens/EFA, Netherlands) requested the inclusion of a section in the Draft Report that would ask the Commission to present a new proposal on the issue which was support by a majority of MEPs.
However, European Commission representatives have said that there will be no ‘plan B’ and any rejection would lead to the continuation of the current situation where the Commission often is required to make the final decision on the authorisation.
Next steps in the EU
The deadline for tabling amendments to the EP Draft Report is set for 16 September 2015. Environment Committee MEPs are scheduled to vote on the Draft Report on 12/13 October 2015. A vote in Plenary is set for 24 November 2015.
The National Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee
The Environment and Sustainability Committee has been following the Commission’s proposals and has written to the Deputy Minister for Health, Vaughan Gething, to determine the Welsh Government’s position and the potential impacts of the proposals on Wales. The letter will be considered by the Committee in the new term.