Tories see off EU plan to impose burdensome fees on the food supply chain

16-Apr-2014 @ 16:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs have scored a major success by staving off plans to impose EU-wide fees on inspections related to the food supply chain.

The proposals, tagged onto legislation to improve monitoring of the food chain following the horse-meat scandal, would have introduced compulsory fees. Each EU country would have been obliged to levy fees from food-business operators in relation to the cost of official controls on food and feed supply.

A Whitehall study predicted the measure would add £48 million in direct costs to the UK industry, with a further burden of £30 million through extra administration to process and record the payments.

However, intensive negotiation and persuasion applied by Conservative MEP, Julie Girling, succeeded in garnering sufficient support from across the political groups to reject the compulsory-fee scheme.

Mrs Girling said: "Consumers and farmers need a regime that gives them confidence in the supply-chain when it comes to food and feed. But they should not be forced to pay for it way of arbitrary and compulsory fees which do nothing in themselves to improve quality or standards.

"Doubtless the impact of the extra costs would ultimately have been felt in higher food prices which shoppers can ill afford.

"Concerns over the food chain were simply being used as an excuse to seize additional EU powers in order to dip official hands in the pockets of the agriculture industry, its customers, and the public.

"It is a relief that commons sense has prevailed and a majority of MEPs have accepted the force of our argument.

" British Labour MEPs refused to back us and voted instead to give away Britain's right to decide whether it wants fees or not; they voted to impose huge EU costs on food suppliers and famers, and they voted for food-price inflation. Happily, thanks to Conservative efforts, they did not succeed."

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