Summary: A simplified piece of European legislation is to be applied soon to extracts of coffee and chicory in the wake of an agreement worked out, on December 8, between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The Directive on these food items forms part of a large-scale process designed to streamline EU food legislation. In April 1996, the European Commission proposed re-examining a total of seven Directives, in keeping with the commitment it made, during the Edinburgh Summit, in December 1992, so as to be able to iron out some of the complexities in certain pieces of legislation.

Directive 436/77 on approximating the laws of the Member States on extracts of coffee and chicory is to be replaced by a simpler piece of legislation that confines itself to the essential requirements the relevant products have to meet in order to be traded freely throughout the EU. The products are extracts of coffee (or chicory), extracts of soluble coffee (or soluble chicory) and instant coffee (or instant chicory). The older Directive sought to define extracts of coffee and chicory, determine substances that could be added during manufacture, create joint rules on packaging and labelling and specify the circumstances when specific names may be used for some of these products. The new Directive refers to general existing provisions applicable for all foodstuffs and particularly labelling-related provisions (the so-called horizontal Directives). Most horizontal Directives were adopted after the Directives based on product-by-product harmonisation (vertical Directives). Unlike other food-related proposals, such as the baby food one, the disagreements between the Parliament and the Council concerning chicory and coffee extracts were overcome quite soon. Meeting on December 8, the Parliament/Council of Ministers Conciliation Committee announced an agreement on a joint text. Once the proposal has been finalised in the EU's official languages, each of the three European institutions involved will have six week to signal its final approval of the...

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