EU forced to rescind ban on olive oil jugs
A European Union ban on the use of unmarked olive oil jugs on restaurant tables has been dropped following a public outcry across Europe.
The climb-down overrides a decision by the EU last week requiring that olive oil "presented at a restaurant table" must be in factory packaged bottles with a tamper-proof hygienic nozzle, and printed labelling in line with Brussels standards.
In a humiliating U-turn, the European commissioner for agriculture, Dacian Ciolos, admitted that the proposed ban on traditional olive oil jugs had provoked popular loathing, or "misunderstanding".
"It was a measure intended to help consumers, to protect and inform them, but it is clear that it cannot attract consumer support," he said.
The ban on the use of jugs, cruets or bowls to serve olive oil was justified as necessary because of alleged fraud in restaurants, but commission officials admitted they have no evidence of the practice.
"We don't have any evidence. It is anecdotal and that was enough for the committee," said an official.
The decision has highlighted the bizarre system of Brussels regulation, known as "comitology", where binding legislation is automatically passed into law despite not having majority support among EU countries.
The outlawing of glass jugs or glazed terracotta dipping bowls led to a public outcry and many restaurateurs protested that it would end their freedom to buy olive oil from a small artisan producer or family business in favour of industrial products.
The ban was dropped after hostile press coverage, complaints from across the EU, and criticism from Holland and Germany led commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, whose father was a small artisanal olive oil producer, to intervene.