ANH presents oral arguments in the ECJ in Luxembourg seeking to overturn the EU ban on vitamins & minerals
For immediate release 25 January 2005
EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE ADVOCATE GENERAL DESCRIBES EU FOOD SUPPLEMENTS DIRECTIVE VITAMIN AND MINERAL PROCEDURE
“AS TRANSPARENT AS A BLACK BOX”
UK GOVERNMENT DECIDES NOT TO ATTEND COURT HEARING TO MAKE ITS OBJECTIONS TO THE CHALLENGE
The Alliance for Natural Health today presented its oral submission to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in its landmark case challenging the ban in the EU Food Supplements Directive on 75% of vitamin and mineral forms currently sold in the EU market. Unless listed on an approved so called “positive list” these nutrients will be banned throughout the EU from 1st August 2005.
Opposing oral submissions were made by the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and only one EU Member State, Greece.
UK Government does not present its objections to the challenge
Interestingly, neither the UK government nor Portugal attended to present oral arguments despite having filed Written Observations in the case. This means that none of the major EU countries felt the need to oppose the ANH's application for a declaration that the ban in the Directive was unlawful.
David Hinde Solicitor and ANH Legal Director said:
“Given the vigour with which the UK government resisted this application at the Judicial Review stage, it was extraordinary it did not now think the issue sufficiently important to warrant being represented at the ECJ to make oral submissions. The question inevitably arises whether this signifies a change of attitude on their part and a retreat from their previously bullish position about the legality of the Directive.”
Paul Lasok QC, a world leading expert on EU law, representing the ANH opened the proceedings and systematically undermined the legal and scientific basis of the Directive's positive list, highlighting contradictions between various arguments put forward by the key bodies involved in developing the Directive, namely the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
When asked by Judge Lenaerts as to the origin of the positive list, which appeared to have been derived from a list produced by the European Commission for another Directive with a quite different purpose and so omitted a vast array of nutrients that can normally be found in food, Mr Lasok responded:
“The list was indeed the same, without adding, without subtracting and without thinking.”
Advocate General Geelhoed, (the senior legal Advisor to the Court) appeared to be baffled by the procedure for adding nutrients to the positive list, which he described:
“As transparent as a black box.”
Dr Robert Verkerk, executive director of the ANH said after the hearing:
“It was remarkable that the vast majority of points that we had gone to great length to show the Court were not countered in any effective way by the opposing parties. The Commission, the Council and the Parliament were not able to give any adequate scientific explanations for why so many forms of vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in foods could be banned across the EU.”
Final judgement expected in June 2005
The Advocate General announced that he would deliver his opinion on 5 April 2005, while the Court is expected to give its judgment in June, shortly before the ban would otherwise be set to come into effect on 1 August 2005.
1. The Alliance for Natural Health is a Europe-wide association of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, consumers and complementary practitioners who have an interest in food supplements. More information, including details of members, will be found at www.alliance-natural-health.org
Good science and good law underpin all of the ANH's work, and the scientific reports produced by the ANH are endorsed by many of the world's leading doctors and scientists working in the field of nutrition.
2. If the ban on vitamins and minerals is implemented there is much at stake:
· Over 5000 products will disappear from the shelves of UK health stores as a result of the ban removing access to over 300 vitamin and mineral ingredients (out of a total of 420). These include amongst others the main natural forms of Vitamin E, many forms of vitamin C and MSM and minerals such as vanadium, silicon and boron, all being products which millions of consumers choose to take as part of their regular health regime and have done so without any ill effects for many years.
· An individual's freedom of choice to take safe natural health products will be removed – 40% of the UK's population take vitamins and minerals.
· Products are to be banned with absolutely no scientific justification. Many of the world's leading scientific and medical experts in nutrition support ANH's views on this issue.