Harmonising Regulations For Greater Competitiveness

Dragana Stikić, Food & Agriculture Committee of the FIC

Dragana Stikić FIC Food & Agriculture Committee

The agriculture sector, and primarily the food industry, represent an opportunity for Serbia’s development, and it should be expected that legislation governing this area be regulated in order to maximally utilise the potential of agriculture and the food sector. However, we’ve been waiting for years for the Law on Food Safety to be amended, so we can conclude that progress can only be expected. Alongside harmonisation, it is also important to ensure clear application.

The Ministry of Health has published its ordinance in the field of nutritional and health declarations, additives, flavourings and enzymes. Certain inconsistencies were observed quickly after the publication of the ordinance on declarations, so we expect amendments to be made soon.

The guide published recently by the Ministry of Agriculture, following the entry into force of the Ordinance on Food Declarations, which is harmonised with the European Union, is one of the ways to harmonise applications in practice.

Serbia is expected, within the scope of the opening of Chapter XII, to submit an Action Plan with concrete deadlines for the transposing, implementing and applying of the EU Acquis in the field of food safety and veterinary and phytosanitary policies. According to information available to our Committee, this is planned to happen this coming autumn, and we are very much looking forward to the implementation of this action plan.

Harmonisation of the Law on Plant Protection Products is among the priority issues, as it will secure the conditions required for their controlled use

The harmonisation of regulations is extremely important to the economy, as it will ensure the greater safety of food, enable the removal of barriers to foreign trade and ease exports to European markets. It will also contribute to increasing the food sector’s level of competitiveness. It is, of course, necessary to start from the Law on Food Safety, in order to remove all deficiencies demonstrated in previous years, but primarily to harmonise it with the European law. The Law on Plant Protection Products is among the priorities and will provide the conditions for their controlled use.

Bylaws governing the areas of contaminants in food, pharmacologically active substances in the food of animal origin, food for infants and young children, new food and nutrition-rich foods are just a few of those that I would single out as priorities.

A very positive example is the formation of the National Coordination Body for Facilitating Trade, within which the Expert Working Group on Agriculture, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures were formed. It is positive that the state has recognised this problem and included all relevant and interested parties able to contribute to resolving existing issues and simplifying administrative procedures. I represent the FIC Food & Agriculture Committee as a member of this working group.

The role of the Council and our Committee is to present to the working group the actual issues faced by producers and importers when trading in agricultural and food products. On the other hand, we also have the role of providing specific recommendations and initiatives for applicable solutions that do not excessively overburden the economy, whilst simultaneously ensuring a high level of protection for the population.

When it comes to the adopting of technical regulations, FIC members can – with their know-how and experience – provide significant contributions in specific areas to ensure that their adoption and application does not create unnecessary barriers to trade.