Saturday

26th Sep 2020

EU retreats from olive oil ban after wave of ridicule

  • The bowl of olive oil will live to see another day (Photo: Alpha)

The European Commission has been forced to beat a hasty retreat from a proposed ban on jugs of olive oil in restaurants after the idea met with widespread ridicule.

Barely a week after it was announced for "hygiene" and "consumer protection" purposes, the EU commissioner in charge, Dacian Ciolos, rushed to the same press room on Thursday (23 May) to announce he was withdrawing the measure.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

Referring to the "quite strong reactions," Ciolos said he had decided to "not submit it for adoption."

The proposal would have banned jugs and dipping bowls of olive oil in restaurants from next year and was meant to prevent restaurant-goers from being served any old inferior oil.

It had been pushed by big olive-oil producing countries and reached the adoption stage by default - having been given the go-ahead by the European Commission as an insufficient number of member states opposed it.

Critics immediately said it would push small artisan producers of olive oil out of business and was ignoring the fact that fraud mostly takes place before the oil is bottled and not at the restaurant table.

Meanwhile, commission spokespeople, minutes after the proposal was announced, had to field questions on whether consumers were not themselves well able to judge the quality of olive oil.

And whether there would be a special olive oil squad team to ensure it was being enforced.

Subsequent media coverage ensured that the proposal is set to take its place in the hall of fame for odd EU legislation.

Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung said it was the "weirdest decision since the legendary curvy cucumber regulation" referring to now-scrapped laws on the shape of fruit and vegetables to be sold in EU supermarkets.

The UK’s Guardian called it “a doozie” and asked well-known London restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi for his opinion.

"What it means is that there just won't be oil in restaurants any more,” he pronounced.

The proposal was also grist to the mill of those arguing that the EU is too bureaucratic.

"This is exactly the sort of thing that Europe shouldn't even be discussing,” said British leader David Cameron at an EU summit on Wednesday.

But while the oil olive saga is over for now, it may be revisited.

Ciolos said he plans to consult with both consumers and producers before coming up with a new oil initiative.

EU tweaks internet film after Polish complaint

The European Commission plans to pad out Poland's part in an online video about the fall of the Iron Curtain, after a complaint from the Polish ambassador to the EU.

EU divided over Italy's olive tree disease

The EU is being railroaded into a plan to eradicate up to 1 million centuries-old olive trees in one of the most picturesque spots in south Italy, campaigners say.

Analysis

China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US

China's pledge to become carbon neutral before 2060 is "good news" for Europe, but it sends a clear message to Washington ahead of the US election - in which climate change has become a significant aspect for voters.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  2. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US
  3. Far right using pandemic to win friends in Germany
  4. Visegrad countries immediately push back on new migration pact
  5. Why no EU progress on Black Lives Matter?
  6. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  7. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  8. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us