2016-06EU Specialty Food Ingredients LAUNCHES IMPROVED DIALOGUE WITH POLICYMAKERS ON FOOD INNOVATION
Brussels, 24th June 2016: At a workshop in Brussels held today, EU Specialty Food Ingredients brought together policymakers and industry experts to discuss How Can Regulators and Industry Meet the EU Food Innovation Challenge? The event saw the first public presentation of an EU Specialty Food Ingredients-commissioned economic impact assessment setting out the impact of EU rules on innovation.
The author, economist Graham Brookes, exposed significant challenges for regulators and industry for creating a regulatory environment that meets the EU's innovation ambitions in the food sector. His study concludes that inefficiencies and uncertainties about new regulations are currently discouraging investment in research and undermining the competitive position of Europe's food manufacturers. In particular, his report highlights the need to streamline approval processes and decrease time to market, pointing to the lengthy and unpredictable EU comitology procedures as placing a significant brake on innovation. Brookes’ presentation followed a keynote speech by Robert Madelin, the Commission's Senior Innovation Adviser. Madelin acknowledged that the regulatory environment could be improved, but argued that it was up to industry to show leadership and bring better evidence of where things are going wrong. The Juncker Commission's vision offers great opportunities for industry, providing the "best platform for innovation in the history of the European Union".
Speaking as Chair of the EU Specialty Food Ingredients Nutrition Committee, Henk Aalten explained how today, the Commission is missing important opportunities to provide a stimulus to innovation. The Commission’s interpretation of data protection rules in the Health Claims Regulation was, he argued, a prime example of how Commission thinking is not attuned to the competitive needs of industry. The Commission and industry do, he claimed, share a common drive for the EU to lead global innovation, but still need a constructive dialogue on how to turn these ambitions into market reality. Wim Debeuckelaere, Head of Sector on Food Additives, Food Enzymes and Flavourings at the Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), suggested that changes to existing legislation were not necessarily required in order to foster innovation, but that practices and procedures could be improved. In particular he pointed the need for clear guidance and online tools for approval applications. This process is already ongoing, he informed participants, and welcomed further dialogue between the Commission and stakeholders.
Participants welcomed the event is an important step towards consolidating ideas. EU Specialty Food Ingredients President, Franck Monmont said "Dialogue between regulators and industry is the only way to form a common vision and strategy. We are very pleased that this Commission is willing to make Innovation a high priority on today's event illustrates that they are serious about making regulations work better."