The European Union is without doubt the single most powerful influence on international Codex conferences and discussions. European Council documents acknowledge the increasing legal relevance that the various Codex Alimentarius guidelines and standards have acquired: “... by virtue of the reference made to the Codex Alimentarius in the WTO Agreements and the presumption of conformity which is conferred on relevant national measures when they are based on such standards, guidelines or recommendations adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Likewise, we also acknowledge that one of the objects of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is to harmonize worldwide health standards.”
It now appears quite likely that European health and nutritional policy will gradually become the blueprint for a new global nutrition and health policy. The growing similarities between the text of the EU Food Supplements Directive and that of the Codex Draft Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Supplements are no coincidence.
Who is really who at Codex?
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
There are 181 members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, (180 member countries and one member organisation); however, Mr. Basil Mathioudakis, who was originally responsible for drafting the actual text of the EU Food Supplements Directive, is also head of the European Commission delegation at Codex, and represents numerous European countries at Codex meetings.
Additionally, the European Union has full membership status at Codex. Mr. Mathioudakis, on behalf of the EU Commission, will certainly be entitled to exercise a significant number of votes equal to the number of its Member States present at the time votes are taken.
Furthermore, whenever Mr. Mathioudakis exercises his right to vote, the Member States will not be entitled to individually exercise their own votes. As such, the European Union Member States are in a weak position to oppose the EU Commission at Codex; especially given the fact that the majority of the guidelines being drawn up are either already law, or in various states of clarification and implementation in their own countries.
So, what is Codex, exactly?
In the next issue: Part Four: What is Codex, exactly?