S&Ds win seven-year battle to end double EU food and products standards

European stars and knife, fork and spoon inside circle

The S&D Group led today a broad cross-party coalition to ensure that there are no second-class products, nor consumers, in the EU. With this vote, the European Parliament recognised the existence of dual quality of food and other consumer products, a practice that refers to the sale of seemingly identical products of lower quality, in some European countries. This is a battle the S&D Group has been fighting even before the problem become the subject of public debate.

The author of the Parliament’s report on the dual quality of products, S&D MEP Olga Sehnalová, said:

“As rapporteur, I am very glad the Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the dual quality of products file. After seven years, the EU Institutions finally recognise that dual quality of products does exist and is a genuine problem affecting the lives of millions of EU citizens.

“The sale of lower quality food and products in some member states, despite the packaging and branding being seemingly identical, is unacceptable. It is an unfair commercial practice that undermines consumers’ trust and the very functioning of the Single Market. Products under the same brand and packaging should have the same composition across the EU. Consumer preferences can no longer be an excuse for flagrant quality differences.

“For us Socialists and Democrats, there can be no discriminatory treatment between East and West, North and South. The food and other products we consume in Prague and Sofia cannot be of lower quality to ones in Berlin and Stockholm. All European consumers, regardless of their country of residence, deserve to be treated fairly and on an equal basis. To this end, we are calling on the Commission to urgently revise the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD). The practice of ‘one brand, one product, different content and composition’ must be stopped now!”

Biljana Borzan MEP, the S&D negotiator on behalf of the health and environment committee, added:

“Numerous studies in the EU show that seemingly identical food products can be of lower quality and less healthy in Eastern European countries. Chocolate spreads, yogurts, soft drinks etc. are proven to contain ingredients of different quality, although they appear identical to consumers. This is unfair and potentially dangerous.

“There should be no second class citizens in the EU. Companies cannot continue with their ‘business as usual’ practices and put at risk the health of European consumers. There should be no East and West in this issue; we are all one Union. We sent a clear message today that we might not all be the same, but we are all equal in the EU.”