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Advocate General declares food supplements directive 'invalid'

Euractiv | April 6, 2005

The European Court's Advocate General has issued a negative opinion concerning the validity of the EU's food supplements directive. The Court ruling is expected in June.

European Court Advocate-General Leendert Geelhoed issued an opinion on 5 April declaring the EU's food supplement directive (2002/46/EC) 'invalid'. "The directive infringes the principle of proportionality, because basic principles of Community law, such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty and of sound administration have not been properly taken into account. The directive is, therefore, invalid," the Advocate General concludes.

The directive on food supplements, adopted in June 2002, stipulates that only vitamins and minerals listed in the annexes to the directive in the form of an 'approved list' may be used after 1 August 2005.

But the directive failed both to establish a norm for deciding to add supplements to the list and to set a procedure for new submissions, Geelhoed pointed out.

On the other hand, Geelhoed deemed the principle of an 'approved list' valid and said that the directive's legal basis of 'harmonising the EU's internal market' as opposed to the protection of public health, was correct.

The case was initiated by groups of vitamin producers, traders and health food stores based in the UK where the food supplements market is the largest in the EU. They argue that the directive, as it stands, would effectively ban 75% of vitamin and mineral forms.

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