This is because the Italian Government passed the ban before member states and the Commission had the opportunity to present their views.
The Italian Government instituted the ban in November 2023, which restricts the production and marketing of cultivated meat products. It also prevents the use of terms such as ‘salami’ or ‘steak’ for plant-based products and introduced fines of up to €60,000 per violation.
Under the TRIS directive, which is designed to prevent regulatory barriers arising within the EU’s internal market, member states be given the opportunity to comment on any draft law that might hinder the European single market before it can be passed by a national parliament.
However, the Italian Government acted before this process took place and therefore the Commission was forced to close the procedure, which means that Italy’s national courts could declare the law unenforceable.
To speed up the law’s approval, the Italian Government withdrew an earlier TRIS notification in October 2023 and then claimed that the ban was compatible with single market rules.
EU executive spokesperson for internal market, Johanna Bernsel, has since clarified that “the law was passed in violation of the suspensive terms of the TRIS regulation”.
Commenting on the situation, Francesca Gallelli, public affairs consultant at nonprofit and think tank the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “The Italian Government wanted to ban cultivated meat as fast as possible – but, as the Commission has pointed out, it may have rendered its own law unenforceable as a result. If a company were to receive EU regulatory approval and start selling cultivated meat in Italy, any effort to stop them could be dismissed in court.
“Italy should now change course. This is an opportunity to launch a more balanced and evidence-based discussion, seeking the views of cultivated meat researchers and experts whose voices have so far been excluded from the Italian debate.”
The sale of cultivated meat is currently on legal in Singapore and the US, although the Dutch Government recently granted permission for cultivated meat firms to apply to take part in controlled tasting sessions.