EHPM urges companies to fight for free trade

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Member states, European union

The European Federation of Associations of Health Product
Manufacturers (EHPM) says companies should take matters into their
own hands in the wake of the Food Supplement Directive's (FSD)
failure to achieve trading harmony in Europe.

The FSD was enacted in 2002 but member states have interpreted it in different ways and some are at various stages of incorporating it into their national legislatures. This lack of uniformity has created a situation where the free trade benefits expected to flow from regulatory harmonisation across the European Union's 27-member states, have not necessarily been forthcoming. In this climate, EHPM is urging companies to be proactive if they feel national regulations are thwarting their pan-European trade ambitions. "We are regularly seeing companies taking court action against national authorities for preventing their products access to a specific market, or submitting their complaints on this to the European Commission,"​ said EHPM chairman, Peter van Doorn said. He said mutual recognition principles could be employed by companies to force member states to abide by the tenets of the FSD and other regulations such as those about functional foods and health and nutrition claims that have been ratified this century. "Mutual recognition has been tried successfully by several companies in the past, and the continued pressure from industry is paying off,"​ he said. "For example,Francehas recently incorporated the principle into its food supplement legislation, allowing acceptance of products that are legally on the market in another member state.As long as there are still many non-harmonised ingredients and products, the use of the mutual recognition principle may open up markets." ​ EHPM, which represents about 2000 health product manufacturers across Europe, said there was much work to be done before harmonisation was achieved in the EU particularly in the areas of permitted ingredients and maximum and minimum doses. Seminar ​The Brussels-based group has organised a 'Free Trade Initiative' to be held next month, to discuss the issues. "Industry faces a number of practical problems in marketing products across the Member States,"​ said van Doorn. "Some companies don't realise that they have options. EU legal principles and case law can be used to overcome national trade barriers and allow the free movement of food supplements across the 27 Member States.By sharing views, problems and potential solutions, we can learn how to 'work the system' more effectivelyand help companies to overcome trade barriers." A European Commission representative will be in attendance to field questions and expound on a mooted plan for a Regulation on Mutual Recognition​ The one-day workshop will provide information on how free movement of goods applies in practice in the EU, the principle of mutual recognition in relation to food supplements as well as on the ground experience of intra-community trade.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy, Suppliers

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