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When the Council of Ministers had to decide on the so-called chocolate directive in 1999, its plan to allow vegetable fat in the production of candy products met with fierce opposition from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. These three member states objected to the usage of vegetable fats other than cocoa in chocolate. Although they advanced some consumer-friendly arguments, continental manufacturers also tried to avoid competition from the British chocolate industry and to protect some of their traditional trading partners in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. They particularly protested against the proposed derogations that would have allowed the United Kingdom and Ireland to continue the production of ‘household milk chocolate’, which contains a large amount of milk. While the Belgian government spoke of ‘à la carte harmonisation’ benefiting ‘the industries of only certain member states’ (Europe Daily Bulletins, No. 7583, 29 October 1999), French chocolate makers demonstrated against the measure during the plenary session of the European Parliament in January 2000. The massive lobbying by the Belgian and French interest groups was, however, only partially successful. The European Parliament accepted the common position of the Council, allowing some sorts of vegetable fats in chocolate as well as the derogations favouring British and Irish ‘family milk chocolate’. The legislature nevertheless added a ‘fair trade’ requirement. This successful amendment granted the industry the right to sell chocolate containing up to six sorts of vegetable fat everywhere in the European Union, as long as these ingredients came from developing countries (Europe Daily Bulletins, No. 7677, 16 March 2000).
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