Politics & Law

Italian Cultivated Meat Ban Could Be “Unenforceable” Due to Violation of EU Scrutiny Procedure

The European Commission has said that Italy violated an EU scrutiny procedure by banning cultivated meat without allowing other member states or the Commission itself to give their views.

The Italian government first proposed the ban in March of last year, citing a lack of studies on the effects of cultivated meat. In October, it was revealed that a draft law proposing the ban had been withdrawn from EU scrutiny, along with another bill to restrict the use of meat-like terms on plant-based product packaging. The controversial bills were then passed by the Italian Chamber of Deputies in November.

“This is an opportunity to launch a more balanced and evidence-based discussion”

According to the European Commission, the draft laws should have been subjected to the TRIS procedure, which is intended to prevent national parliaments from passing bills that could affect the European Single Market without consulting other member states and the Commission. However, the Italian government passed the laws without completing this process, despite objections from within the EU.

Consequently, the European Commission had to close the TRIS procedure relating to the laws, stating that the process had been violated. This means that national courts could potentially declare the cultivated meat ban unenforceable. Additionally, there are concerns that the law may violate the EU’s precautionary principle and the Italian Constitution.

Mosa Meat Burger
© Mosa Meat

“Italy should change course”

The Italian government has misinterpreted the closing of the TRIS procedure, claiming it was done because the law complies with the single market. However, an EU spokeswoman clarified that it was “done on a procedural basis because the law was passed in violation of the suspensive terms of the TRIS regulation”.

Despite this, Hungarian Agriculture Minister István Nagy has come out in support of the Italian law. As reported by Hungary Today, the Minister claimed in a radio interview that “the European way of life is being threatened” and that cultivated meat has “unforeseeable consequences”. Hungary is now said to be considering following Italy’s example by introducing a similar ban.

Nonprofit and think tank the Good Food Institute Europe argues that the Italian debate on cultivated meat has been “fuelled by misinformation”, with companies in the industry deliberately excluded from Senate hearings. Furthermore, the organisation says that the law deprives consumers of choice and isolates Italy from the future economic benefits of the cultivated meat sector.

“The Italian government wanted to ban cultivated meat as fast as possible – but, as the Commission has pointed out, it may have rendered its own law unenforceable as a result,” said Francesca Gallelli, public affairs consultant at the Good Food Institute Europe. “If a company were to receive EU regulatory approval and start selling cultivated meat in Italy, any effort to stop them could be dismissed in court. Italy should now change course. This is an opportunity to launch a more balanced and evidence-based discussion, seeking the views of cultivated meat researchers and experts whose voices have so far been excluded from the Italian debate.”

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