National Ombudsman: Huge Economic Interests Are Behind Dual Quality of Products

National Ombudsman: Huge Economic Interests Are Behind Dual Quality of Products


National Ombudsman: Huge
Economic Interests Are Behind
Dual Quality of Products

Brussels, January 22 (BTA Correspondent Nikolay Jeliazkov) - Huge economic interests are behind the dual quality of food and drinks in the EU, National Ombudsman Maya Manolova told the European Parliament's Committee on Petitions here on Tuesday. The Committee was reviewing a petition submitted by Manolova on double standards of the same food brand.

Manolova described this practice, where products marketed under the same brand differ in composition or characteristics, as offensive and discriminating, and said that it has existed for a long time throughout the EU, strongly affecting the rights of citizens and the equality of consumers.

She noted that part of producers have discontinued these unfair
actions. She also said that there is doubt in national
supervisory services' ability and courage to persecute and
penalize those who resort to double food standards.

Addressing the Committee, Bulgarian MEPs Filiz Hyusmenova (ALDE/MRF) and Svetoslav Malinov (EPP/DSB) insisted on the petition remaining open. Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovachev (EPP/GERB) supported this proposal and said the EU institutions are performing the main task given by EU citizens: to solve their problems.

Bulgarian MEP Momchil Nekov (S&D/BSP) called for harsher penalties for established violations of the requirement for one and the same composition of food and drinks under the same brand in the EU.

Committee on Petitions Chair Cecilia Wikstrom commented that dual quality of products is unfair. She said the petition will remain open, meaning that the Committee will continue to follow the issue and be ready to intervene.

Also on Tuesday, the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved updates to EU consumer protection rules to tackle misleading rankings in online marketplaces and dual quality of products in the EU, the European Parliament said in a press release.

The MEPs added dual quality of products to the unfair commercial practices blacklist. They agreed that goods could only differ "on account of clear and demonstrable regional consumer preferences, the sourcing of local ingredients or requirements of national law, while this distinction is clear and comprehensively marked so as to be immediately visible to the consumer".

The amended proposal is part of the New Deal for Consumers package presented in April 2018. The text will need to be green-lighted by the European Parliament in an upcoming plenary session before negotiations with the EU Council can start, the press release specifies.

Manolova said that the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, which held a meeting at the same time as the Committee on Petitions, voted 19 in favour, with one abstention, on a consumer package tabled by Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Commissioner Vera Jourova. It was unveiled at a forum in Sofia entitled "Time to Table the EU Double Standards on Foodstuffs" organized by Manolova last April as part of Bulgaria's EU Council Presidency.

Later on Manolova and Jourova met and reiterated their position that dual food standards should be fought to the end.

Source: Brussels