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Parliamentary questions
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9 March 2016
Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-000188/2016

The Commission supports Member States' action to promote healthy diets in the framework of the comprehensive Strategy on Nutrition, Overweight, and Obesity-related health issues(1), the Health Programme(2) and through the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity(3) and the EU platform for action on diet, physical activity and health(4).

In this context, the Commission welcomes and supports more ambitious action to promote healthy lifestyles. Initiatives such as the implementation of the action plan on Childhood Obesity(5), the Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity(6), and the EU Framework for national action on selected nutrients(7) are ongoing.

In addition, by promoting responsible marketing to children(8), improving consumer information(9), and supporting the EU School Milk and Fruit and Vegetables Schemes(10), the Commission promotes healthier diets. Horizon 2020 offers further opportunities for related research(11)(12)(13) and innovation is also supported through related pilot projects financed by the European Parliament(14).

Taxation should be considered as part of a wider range of tools and the complexity of its effects calls for careful consideration and design. The VAT Directive already allows Member States to tax fresh fruit and vegetables at a lower level than other foodstuffs, if they so wish (current rules prescribe a minimum 5% rate). The Commission Action Plan on VAT, to be presented in March 2016, will present a range of policy options, which will include the possibility of granting Member States greater leeway in setting VAT rates.

(5)With reserve by The Netherlands http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/docs/childhoodobesity_actionplan_2014_2020_en.pdf
(10)http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:346:0012:0019:EN:PDF and http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sfs/index_en.htm; http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/milk/school-milk-scheme/index_en.htm from 1.8.2017, a new agricultural school scheme will prioritise the free distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking milk.

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