Biljana Borzan: Why Isn’t Government Lobbying for Croatian Label in Brussels?

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the European Union (EU) will soon introduce mandatory nutrition labels for food on packaging, and EU member states are currently vigorously lobbying for their national labels to be chosen. Croatia, quite unsurprisingly, isn’t doing the same. MEP Biljana Borzan warned that Croatia is simply ignoring the existence of the “Live Healthy” label in Brussels, which, with co-financing from EU funds, was developed by the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

”Across the EU, eight labels are used on a voluntary basis, Croatia should be proud and take advantage of the fact that one of these is the Croatian “Live Healthy” label, and of course, Croatia should lobby to be elected. However, a meeting of representatives of EU member states was held on March the 11th to discuss this very topic, and according to the minutes taken, our representatives didn’t even bother to mention that there is a Croatian label at all, let alone lobby for its use. The meeting was organised by Italy, which harnessed significant diplomatic resources for their so-called “Battery” label, and Croatia is indirectly supporting it with its silence, warned Biljana Borzan, who has long advocated the introduction of a single EU label.

At the end of 2022, the European Commission (EC) will propose a single label system for the entire European Union (single) market, in order to better inform the public and combat the growing problem of obesity and other such related diseases. This is part of the “From the field to the table” strategy, for which vice president Biljana Borzan is in charge on behalf of the Eurosocialists.

”More than 950,000 people died across the EU in 2017 as a result of eating an unhealthy diet, mainly from heart disease and cancer, and Croatia is worse than the average. The new labels will help customers find more nutritious products on store shelves. These new labels must be noticeable, easy to understand and based on scientific knowledge. These are the characteristics of “Live Healthy”, which is well known to the Croatian food industry. Significant amounts of money from EU funds have been invested in its promotion, and the inactivity and lack of information of the representatives of the Croatian Government in Brussels is all the more inadmissible,” Biljana Borzan believes.

The MEP added that the Eurobarometer survey showed that 82 percent of respondents in Croatia fully or mostly agree with the statement that there should be one logo that would signal that food is healthy and sustainable.

“Unfortunately, this situation reminds me of the debacle with the candidacy for the seat of the European Medicines Agency, when Croatia withdrew Zagreb’s candidacy in favour of Italy. The explanation was that we didn’t have a great chance and that Italy would somehow repay us, but of course, there was nothing of that to speak of. Slovakia also insisted on Bratislava’s candidacy and a year later gained the seat of a new EU labour agency. The EU is a community that provides opportunities, but they don’t benefit the modest, self-denying and inert, but those who fight for their slice of the cake”, concluded Biljana Borzan.

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