SLI-Report 2005:2

Who should regulate our food? – EU food regulations and the principle of subsidiarity

Authors: Anna Isaksson 

Due to the integration process within the EU, the common legislation now covers a large number of issues. But is there always a need for common policies or are there issues that are more or less important to deal with at a European level?

SLI has previously concluded that there is no longer a need for a common agricultural policy. The arguments in favour of a common policy have diminished after the expansion of the union and after the change of the contents of the agricultural policy. Since farm support is no longer tied to production, it no longer disturbs the internal market.

Taking the functioning of the internal market into consideration has been an important aspect in the formulation of EU regulations. This is the reason why a number of policy areas have become a common issue and why, as a consequence, national legislation has been replaced by EU legislation. This trend has been particularly strong in the food policy area.

This report uses two case studies, the EU food hygiene regulation and EU regulation on health and nutrition claims, to examine whether there is a need for common regulations, or if national regulations are sufficient..

The principle of subsidiarity is used to evaluate the issue. This principle is an outcome of a political compromise between supporters and opponents of centralisation. The weakness of this compromise, which made it possible in the first place, is unfortunately a disadvantage when it comes to implementation. This is the reason why this report includes a legal as well as an economic perspective.


Anna Isaksson

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