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In her first annual State of the Union address on September 16, EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, stated:

The Single Market is all about opportunity – for a consumer to get value for money, a company to sell anywhere in Europe and for industry to drive its global competitiveness… and it is critical for managing the crisis and recovering our strength. Let’s give it a boost. We must tear down the barriers of the Single Market. We must cut red tape. We must step up implementation and enforcement.”

A newly created Single Market Enforcement Task Force, comprising of EU member states and Commission representatives, led by French Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, is tasked with building on this political commitment and is in the process of developing a plan to remove key barriers that hamper the functioning of the Single Market, with a particular focus on the agri-food sector, amongst others.

In the dairy sector we have seen many new barriers to trade spring up across the single market over the last number of years, chiefly regarding national decrees on mandatory origin labelling of dairy and dairy ingredient products, in place in France, Italy, Portugal amongst others, as well as for example a Bulgarian law obliging the retail sector to source 90% of all dairy produce from within the country,  and a name and shame list of dairy importers published by the Polish government during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. ICOS will be seeking to ensure that these protectionist issues are addressed within the work of the task force and the full and free functioning of the EU single market is restored.

On the national mandatory origin labelling, we may even see action taken soon, with a case against the French national decree being assessed in the European Court of Justice and a ruling scheduled for October 1. The decision will be critical in determining the future of national origin labelling decrees implemented in all EU countries.

Alison Graham                                                                                                                                                       European Affairs Executive