France - use of languages in the labelling of foodstuffs

Alkistis Fleischer fleischa at
Mon Jul 29 22:05:03 UTC 2002

The European Commission has asked France to "bring its national law on the use of languages for labelling foodstuffs into line with European law." 

The relevant excerpt of press release IP / 02 /1155 (Date: 25/07/2002) follows: 

France - use of languages in the labelling of foodstuffs 

The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to the French authorities asking them to bring French law into line with a judgment handed down by the Court of Justice on 12 September 2000 in preliminary ruling C-366/98 concerning the use of languages for labelling foodstuffs. 

As it stands, French law provides that any particulars on the label of foodstuffs imported into France must be written in French. 

The Commission considers that, pursuant to the aforementioned case law of the Court of Justice, the EC Treaty and Directive 2000/13/EC on the labelling and presentation of foodstuffs preclude national regulations from imposing the use of a specific language for labelling foodstuffs without allowing the use of another language that is easily understood by the consumer or allowing the consumer to be informed by other means. 

For example, the Directive would allow a carton of chicken wings sold in a fast food restaurant in France to refer to the product concerned in a language other than French, such as the term "chicken wings", if the carton carried a photo clearly depicting its contents. 

The French authorities have acknowledged that their legislation is incompatible with Community law, and have confirmed their intention to revise the contested legislation. Nevertheless, the proposed amendment has still not been adopted. 

For critical voices, see Vox Latina (in French):
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