I have just returned from a two-week holiday to Crete, where a daily pleasure was the fresh crusty bread and small jugs of local olive oil and vinegar for dipping served by local tavernas at the start of a meal. While in Britain we tend to favour small dishes of oil, this is a common feature in restaurants all over Europe.
However, from next January this simple treat will be banned after a Brussels committee decided oil must be served in pre-packaged, non-refillable bottles, featuring standard EU labelling, which must be disposed of after use.
The motion was backed by Europe’s main olive oil-producing nations, including Greece, Spain and Italy, which are among the worst hit by the Euro crisis. But in Britain, MPs have slammed these crazy rules and the technocrat officials who abstained from voting against them. It won’t just be olive oil missing from our dining tables if the flood of EU regulation continues, they fear.
It’s common to see other European countries agreeing to and then flouting regulation – everything from unrefrigerated cheese market stalls in France to smoking in public places in Germany. But here in Britain we tend to gold plate regulation and stick to the letter of the law.
Back in February, RN hosted a debate between two key politicians on whether local shops would be better off if we were in or out of the EU. While the debate continues, even those most in favour of remaining in agree reform is urgently needed.
There won’t be many convenience stores falling victim to the new olive oil rules. But this is a great example of why we need reform to protect local businesses from crazy laws and over-bearing producers looking to safeguard profits.