With the imminent arrival of European enlargement, the welcoming yesterday of 162 observers from candidate countries into the European Parliament marked a significant step forward towards full integration. The Confederation of the food and drink industries of the EU (CIAA) used this opportunity to welcome the significant progress already accomplished to integrate the Community Acquis - in other words, the entire body of European legislation currently in force.
One key aspect of current legislation is EU food law. The CIAA confirmed its participation in helping the candidate countries to meet the proper implementation and enforcement of EU Law and to guarantee that as of 1 May 2004 all foodstuffs, put on the EU market, meet the EU food standards.
For the CIAA, the arrival to the European Parliament on 1 May of 162 observers from candidate countries is a historical milestone of the enlargement process, 'prefiguring tomorrow's political Europe and facilitating the political integration of future EU Member States,' wrote the CIAA in a statement yesterday.
Considerable progress, claims the CIAA, has already been accomplished in integrating the food-related aspects of the Community Acquis in national laws. This task must now be continued and rapidly completed, in order to reach proper implementation and enforcement of EU food legislation at the time of accession. Efforts to reinforce the administrative and control structures of the future Member States and to ensure the respect of the new external borders of the EU also need to be intensified.
The CIAA confirmed that the EU food industry will continue to play its part, in co-operation with local food industry federations, in the implementation of the EU food safety and hygiene standards in the local industries.
For two years, the CIAA has contributed, via the PHARE 'Business Support Programme ' (BSP), to reinforce food and drink industry federations in the CEEC and to raise awareness and understanding of the Acquis in the industry.
The CIAA has recently been selected, as a result of a Commission call for tender to carry out a new BSP project to help with the rapid implementation of EU food law in local companies and with the introduction of voluntary codes of Good Hygiene Practices.