The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) told us yesterday: “From the video recording [1 hour 55], it is clear that the vote was very chaotic. The amendment in question was first rejected with a clear majority by show of hands and then after a short break, the vote was repeated electronically and the amendment was adopted.”
The quick-fire votes were conducted on countless amendments from different committee reports. BEUC said even Parliament staff in the room had understood the amendment was rejected.
In the video, chair of the committee Pavel Svoboda said the show-of-hands vote had rejected the amendment, which could see nutrient profiles deleted from the 2006 EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation. However after an electronic check he added: "Oh, adopted, surprise surprise."
NutraIngredients reported last month that JURI had rejected the previous calls from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) to scrap the nutrient profiles and even review the regulation as a whole.
UK Labour MEP and ENVI committee member Glenis Willmott, who was one of the few ENVI members to vote against the proposed changes back in March, praised JURI’s decision at the time. She told us yesterday she found out only this week that this was not the case.
The votes came as part of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), which sought to "simplify and rationalise" the EU regulatory framework and sought feedback from the relevant committees.
The REFIT report will now go to a Strasbourg plenary session on July 7th where it will be put to another vote. Since the report is self-tasked it is not legally binding, although the Commission is required to take a position.
Both Willmott and BEUC said they hoped the electronic vote would be overturned in a separate vote on the paragraph in the plenary at the request of the rapporteur.
Who said what?
ENVI’s suggestion voted for by JURI read: “[ENVI] calls on the Commission, in view of the serious and persistent problems which arise in the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, including problems of distortion of competition, to review the scientific basis of this regulation and how useful and realistic it is and, if appropriate, to eliminate the concept of nutrient profiles; considers that the aims of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, such as ensuring that information which is provided concerning foods is true and that specific indications are given concerning fat, sugar and salt content, have now been attained by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.”
A spokesperson for Pavel Svoboda confirmed this text had been adopted.
The concept of nutrient profiles was introduced as part of the 2006 health claim regulation to ensure products high in fat, sugar and salt could not create a 'health halo' by carrying approved health claims. An initial deadline of 2009 was set for their creation, but six years on and there has been little movement.