The European Vegetarian Union (EVU) is closely monitoring the latest developments in France regarding the decree banning the use of meat-related terms to describe plant-based products. The French government’s decision to publish this new decree while the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has not yet provided its ruling on the matter raises serious questions about France’s intentions for EU legal processes. As outlined in a press release on 31 August 2023, the French Conseil d’Etat wisely decided to refer the case, initiated by the EVU and the Association Végétarienne de France (AVF), to the ECJ for clarification on key aspects of food labeling for plant-based products in the EU.
The ECJ’s forthcoming ruling is expected to address fundamental questions regarding the compatibility of such national laws with EU law and the proportionality of these measures in ensuring consumer transparency. These are pivotal questions that have far-reaching implications for food labeling not just in France but across the European Union. The latest move by the French government disrupts the legal process before the ECJ, endangering the much needed response to the raised questions.
“The EVU finds it highly questionable that France decided to submit a new decree when there is still a preliminary ECJ ruling open, which concerns not just the old decree, but also the essential issue of the harmonisation of these practices at EU level.’’ stated Ronja Berthold, Policy Advisor at the European Vegetarian Union. ‘’The new decree does not change the necessity of answering this question, so we are still confident that any ECJ procedure, whether on old or new decrees, will give us clarification for the future of plant-based food labelling.”.