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Dragana Stikić, Co-president Of The FIC Anti-illicit Trade & Food Committee (Nestlé Adriatic S d.o.o.)

Better Harmonisation With Eu Regulations

Tangible progress in harmonising Serbian legislation with the European acquis in the domain of food requires the revision of the existing Law on Food Safety, which often hinders the drafting of bylaws

The Law on Food Safety didn’t stipulate the adoption of certain regulations, or it stipulated the adoption of bylaws in such a way that full harmonisation is prevented, both due to differences in the categorisation of foods and due to the prescribed procedures, or because of the actual names of the bylaws. As an example, the Law stipulated the adoption of the ‘Rulebook on food with modified nutritional composition’, which isn’t conceptually defined or prescribed in the same way in the European acquis. Furthermore, in an effort to ensure clarity and consistency, European legislation didn’t consider it necessary for all rules applicable to gluten to be established by the same legislation, i.e., for the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers to also provide the framework for rules related to information on the absence of gluten in food. Although this isn’t prescribed explicitly in our law, rules that relate to information on the absence of gluten in food were nonetheless not included in the rulebook that more closely prescribes the area of declaration. Procedures governing the market placement of new food and dietary products envisage a mandatory approval procedure for each new product placed on the market, which becomes an unnecessary administrative obstacle with the harmonisation of regulations, in addition to increasing the length of the process itself.

It is necessary to review the level of harmonisation of unique methodological rules for the drafting of regulations that differ from the EU method of drafting regulations and thus often represent an obstacle to full transposition

When it comes to the establishing of a transparent and all-encompassing risk analysis system for all inspection services, with the help of digital solutions, it is important to note that this kind of a system of risk analysis during official controls, with the application of digitalisation, would certainly accelerate goods exchanges, but would also free up the capacities of inspections to be redirected to activities that would contribute to fortifying the system of food safety. If the data were to be centralised, with digital solutions enabling access to data, such as, for instance, the history of the company in question and classification into low-risk or high-risk, which would represent the first step towards the simplification of the process and swift decision making as to whether a delivery will be sampled and inspected. Resources would thereby automatically be directed towards those who’ve proven to be noncompliant in the past.

For the FIC, harmonising regulations from EU Accession Chapter XII is certainly a priority. Adopting amendments to the Law on Trade is hugely important to our committee, given that it has been shown that a conflict of jurisdiction exists between this law and the Law on Food Safety, which is the lex specialis for the domain of food and food declarations. These two laws prescribe different rules for declaring country of origin, which leads to the conclusion that different ministries have different approaches for the same area when it comes to the harmonisation of regulations. Due to this clash of jurisdiction, as well as inconsistent interpretation on the part of inspections and participants in doing business with food, this difference in approach still leads, in practice, to operational uncertainty and difficulties in the trade exchange with the EU and neighbouring countries.

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