Friday

5th Mar 2021

Curvy cucumbers could come back to EU shelves

  • Only 10 standards are to remain, according to the commission's proposal (Photo: Fabrizio Federici)

No single rule has probably contributed so much to the reputation of the EU as an over-regulatory bureaucracy as that on sales of curved cucumbers.

But the much-mocked regulation could soon be gone, with funny shaped vegetables and fruits return to super market shelves throughout the union.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A proposal from agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel to repeal the rules on curved cucumbers together with regulations of 25 other fruits and vegetables may pass, when experts from the EU member states meet in Brussels next Wednesday (12 November).

Only 10 standards are to remain, according to the commission's suggestion - including those for apples, citrus fruit, peaches, pears and tomatoes - accounting for three-quarters of EU cross-border fruit and vegetable trade.

"I can't stand it any longer to be confronted with the curved cucumbers. I want to end this debate, that the EU is regulating everything into the details," Ms Fischer Boel explained to Danish daily Politiken.

"My immediate reaction was to get rid of it all. But I have met stiff opposition in the member states. Mainly due to massive lobby from the retail and whole sales business, aiming to keep the standards," she explained.

Countries like Italy, Spain, France and Hungary still want to keep regulations on the trade. It's easier to buy and sell standard products, but supermarket giant Sainsbury and Friends of the Earth among others have campaigned for relaxed rules on sale of 'imperfect' fruit and veg.

In a recent letter to the commissioner the retailer suggested such a move could reduce prices by up to 40 percent and cut down on the one-fifth of produce wasted.

"We have been struggling to fit a square peg in a round hole for too long now," Sue Henderson, of Sainsbury's told the BBC.

"We're not allowed to use up to 20% of what's produced in this country and in the current credit crunch climate, we cannot continue to waste this much food before it even leaves the farms."

EU member states voted on the new rules already in July, but there was not a qualified majority in favour of keeping the rules nor of scrapping them.

When ministers are blocked over approval of a particular proposal, the decision passes over to the commission, which makes it possible for Mariann Fischer Boel to pass her proposal with effect from July 2009.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.

Investigation

Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us