The European Union, as a member of the International Coffee Organization and the International Coffee Agreement of 2007, has a set of regulations that are designed to foster the worldwide sustainable development of coffee. Legislation is also present that is designed to protect the interests of both producers and consumers.
Obstacles to Trade and Consumption
The trading of coffee internationally is regulated by the terms set out by the International Coffee Organization (ICO). As such, an EU member state's barriers to trade, such as preferential tariffs, quotas and government monopolies are discouraged. This is designed to promote the economic development of coffee-exporting countries that often lag behind their European counterparts. A failure to remove such barriers to trade would likely result in financial or political penalties.
With the purpose of protecting consumer rights, any product that is marketed under the name "coffee" must contain 95 per cent or more of green coffee as a basic raw material. A periodic audit and report, conducted by European Union officials, is delivered to the European Council as a compliance measure. This is to ensure and thus promote coffee quality, with the ultimate aim of benefiting the producer.
Certificates of Origin
All coffee imported into the European Union must be accompanied by a certificate of origin. This is to help with the collection of statistics on the international coffee trade which in turn is used for future policy recommendations. Along with the periodic publication of economic and statistical information, this also helps in promoting the transparency of the international coffee trade to consumers, producers and governments alike.
Food Hygine Requirements
As coffee is a food product, it is also bounded by food hygiene requirements when imported. Imported coffee arriving in the European Union must not contain contaminants, or exceed maximum residue levels for pesticides and radioactivity. The health of the coffee beans are also considered, as they may be affected by diseases which may ultimately have negative consequences for Europe's ecosystem. Genetically modified coffee is subject to additional scrutiny. It is the duty of the importer to abide by such regulations. Controls and checks are carried out by the individual member states.
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