The European Commission has today decided to register a European Citizens’ Initiative entitled ‘Mandatory food labelling Non-Vegetarian / Vegetarian / Vegan’.

The initiative states that: “Vegetarians and vegans struggle across the EU to identify suitable food. We must study the ingredients list of a food product to determine if it is fit for purchase with a hyper-awareness of ambiguous ingredients that could either be plant or animal based”. The organisers call on the European Commission to propose mandatory pictorial labels on all food products indicating whether they are non-vegetarian, vegetarian, or vegan.

The Commission’s decision to register the Initiative concerns only the legal admissibility of the proposal. The Commission has not analysed the substance at this stage.

The registration of this Initiative will take place on 12 November 2018, starting a one-year process of collection of signatures of support by its organisers. Should the initiative receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react within three months. The Commission can decide either to follow the request or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning.

European Citizens’ Initiatives were introduced with the Lisbon Treaty and launched as an agenda-setting tool in the hands of citizens in April 2012, upon the entry into force of the European Citizens’ Initiative Regulation which implements the Treaty provisions. In 2017, as part of President Juncker’s State of the Union address, the European Commission tabled reform proposals for the European Citizens’ Initiative to make it even more user-friendly.

Once formally registered, a European Citizens’ Initiative allows one million citizens from at least one quarter of EU Member States to invite the European Commission to propose a legal act in areas where the Commission has the power to do so.

The conditions for admissibility, as foreseen by the European Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, are that the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, that it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and that it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union.