The European Commission has torn up new rules on how restaurants should serve olive oil less than a week after unveiling them, following widespread ridicule and accusations of unwanted interference.
Last week, the Commission said restaurants would be banned from serving oil to diners in refillable glass jugs or dipping bowls from next year. Instead, to protect consumers from fraud, restaurants would have to use sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty.
Thursday’s u-turn shows how sensitive the EU executive is to accusations of unnecessary meddling in people’s lives, at a time when surveys show voters are losing faith in the European Union over its perceived mishandling of the bloc’s debt crisis.
At a summit on Wednesday, the new olive oil rules were firmly criticised by Britain and the Netherlands.
“This is exactly the sort of area that the European Union needs to get right out of, in my view,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants to claw back powers from Brussels ahead of a potential referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017.
“It shouldn’t even be on the table, to make a false pun.”
Announcing the climb-down, EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos told a news briefing that he had taken the decision once it became clear that consumers were against the plans.
“This is crucial in my view, so I’ve decided to withdraw this proposal and not submit it for adoption,” he said.
“I wanted to come here today to demonstrate that I’ve been very alive to the current debate in the press.”
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