European Union 27 - Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards
The European Union (EU) has gradually expanded to become the world‟s largest multi-nation trading bloc. Since January 1, 2007, the European Union comprises 27 member states with approximately 500 million consumers. EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Croatia will become the 28th EU Member State on July 1, 2013. Iceland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are candidates to join the EU.
All EU Member countries accept the “acquis”, i.e. the entire body of EU laws and obligations associated with the treaties and agreements to which the EU is a party, including the EU laws and rules pertaining to processed foods.
Originally created as a customs union, the process of harmonizing existing Member State legislation has been long and cumbersome and is still ongoing. While the vast majority of food laws and regulations have been harmonized throughout the EU, the single EU market is still not a “done deal.” It is important to note that when EU-wide legislation is incomplete or absent, the laws of Member States apply, often resulting in different rules in different Member States. The FAIRS reports prepared by the Offices of Agricultural Affairs in the EU Member States are excellent sources of information on Member State specific requirements. These reports can be downloaded from the FAS website at http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Pages/Default.aspx.