The European Commission has shelved a proposed stricter rule on how restaurants can serve olive oil amidst public outcry and accusations of meddling bureaucracy.
Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, responsible for agriculture and rural development, said today at the mid-day press conference at the European Commission that he was withdrawing the proposition.
“I’ve decided to withdraw this proposal and not submit it for adoption,” Ciolos said as he attempted to deflect a barrage of pointed questions. “I wanted to come here today to demonstrate that I’ve been very alive to the current debate in the press.”
The aborted regulation planned that, from January 1, 2014, eateries would be banned from serving oil to diners in small glass jugs or dipping bowls, and forced instead to use pre-sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty.
The European Commission said the move was designed to improve hygiene and reassure consumers that olive oil in restaurants has not been diluted with an inferior product. The Commission also said its proposal was supported by 15 out of 27 EU member governments, including the continent’s main olive oil producers – Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal – which are among the countries worst affected by the euro crisis.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron had criticized the ban, saying it was ““exactly the sort of area that the European Union needs to get right out of”.
German newspaper Sueddetsche Zeitung described the plan as “the weirdest decision since the legendary curvy cucumber regulation”, referring to now-defunct EU rules on the shape of fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets.
Olive oil isn’t quite yet off the European Commission’s menu. To “meet objectives concerning quality” for consumers, Commissioner Cioloş has invited restaurants, hotels and consumers associations to meet next week in Brussels to discuss promoting olive oil quality for consumer without disproportionate regulations, a EC spokesman tweeted.