EU Council Accepts Bulgaria’s Position in Favour of Essential Oil Crop Growers

On the last day of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the member states, acting through the Permanent Representatives Committee I (COREPER I), approved a legislative proposal to keep the existing approach to the classification of essential oils, the Agriculture and Food Ministry in Sofia reported on Sunday.

In connection with the European Commission’s proposal to amend the Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, the EU Council accepted the arguments of Bulgaria and seven other member states about the difficulties in adopting the proposed approach, and added a review clause asking the Commission to make further analysis and present it in four years.

The Bulgarian position in favour of essential oil crop growers was set forth by Agriculture and Food Minister Kiril Vatev at a meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on June 26-27. Vatev said Bulgaria insisted on keeping the current approach to the classification of essential oils in order to preserve the traditional methods of growing essential oil crops in the EU and let farmers and seasonal workers in the sector retain their livelihood. He called for essential oils to be excluded from the concept of complex substances so that they continue to be classified under the current rules as substances and not as mixtures.

The EU Council decision is advancing the cause of producers of natural substances for perfumery and cosmetics, the press release said. Negotiations are yet to be held with the European Parliament to set the final version of the regulation.

Agriculture Minister Vatev commented that the decision is an achievement of the whole Bulgarian government, and Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov personally.

The Prime Minister, who is a world-renowned scientist in the field of chemistry and physicochemistry, strongly defended Bulgarian rose oil and other natural essential oils at the European Council meeting on June 30. During the debate on the topic of “Economy”, he pointed to a significant oversight in the draft Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals (CLP), which places essential oils in the category of hazardous chemical mixtures. “When discussing whether something is harmful, we need to look not only at what the substance is, but also what its concentration is”, Denkov said, adding that only then can a substance be described as dangerous or not. “In the text of the regulation that is being presented, the word ‘concentration’ is missing,” he noted.

Denkov told the other EU leaders that the proposed regulation was an abuse of science. He expressly asked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to make sure that the text is made more accurate, because “it is not scientific, although it should be”. His request was met with understanding.