Regulation (EEC) No. 1677/88 (cucumber regulation) - Verordnung (EWG) Nr. 1677/88 (Gurkenverordnung)

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Regulation (EEC) No. 1677/88

Title: Regulation (EEC) No. 1677/88 of the Commission of June 15, 1988 setting quality standards for cucumbers
(not official)
Cucumber regulation
Scope: I
Legal matter: Commercial law
Basis: Regulation (EEC) No. 1035/72 as amended by Regulation (EEC) No. 1117/88 , in particular Article 2 (3),
To be used from: January 1, 1989
Replaced by: Regulation (EC) No. 1221/2008
Expiry: 30. June 2009
Reference: ABl. L 150 vom 16.6.1988, S. 21–25
Full text Consolidated version (not official)
basic version
Regulation has expired.
Please note the information on the current version of legal acts of the European Union !

The Regulation no. 1677/88 / EEC laying down quality standards for cucumbers was a Regulation of the European Community , the cucumbers using various features in different grades one hurried. Since it stipulated, among other things, that a cucumber of the “Extra” commercial class could have a maximum curvature of ten millimeters by ten centimeters in length, the regulation became famous as the cucumber regulation or cucumber curvature regulation . [1] As such, it was synonymous with an exuberant as perceived bureaucracy of Brussels and served EU critics andFor twenty years, cabaret artists have been common evidence of the rampant regulatory mania of the European administration. The European Commission repealed the regulation in 2009, although a majority of EU member states as well as trade and farmers' associations were in favor of keeping it. The most important wholesalers continue to use the specification as internal standardization .

Introduction of the regulation

The regulation was passed in 1988. It was a largely literal adoption of the recommendations of the Geneva-based UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), to which 56 member states belong. [2] As a European regulation, the standard was legally binding. The regulations were based on requests from the trade. [3] Other sources cite a 1926 vegetable regulation in Denmark as the basis. [4]

Already since 1967 a quality class law in Austria and from 1968 various quality class ordinances [5] regulate the classification of certain agricultural products according to classes and quality standards of fruits rigorously [6] (“The difference in the transverse diameter is allowed for fruits [apples and pears] of class I that are loosely packed, be 10 mm. "). The paragraph for cucumbers in the ordinance also already stipulated that for cucumbers of the “Extra” class the “maximum curvature 10 mm over a length of 10 cm of the cucumber” had to be. [7]As noted in the EU quality standard, crooked cucumbers ("curvature of over 20 mm to 10 cm in length of the cucumber"), but "only separate from straight or slightly curved cucumbers", were allowed to be offered in stores. This quality class regulation expired on June 30, 1997, after Austria joined the EU in 1995.

Content and meaning

straight cucumber
A cucumber with a degree of curvature permitted by Class III

On five pages, the ordinance contained detailed information on the properties of cucumbers, from the minimum weight to the color and the curvature, thus defining the “Extra” quality class and the trade classes I to III. Cucumbers of quality class Extra and Class I were therefore allowed to have a maximum curvature of ten millimeters over a length of ten centimeters, for commercial class II a maximum of twenty millimeters was allowed. The top-class cucumber should be "practically straight", while that of commercial class I should be "fairly well shaped".

The regulation was intended to create a standard that guarantees retailers, consumers and processors across Europe comparable products. The aim was to ensure that a greengrocer did not first have to examine the cucumbers in each individual case, but could rely on a certain quality, and automated fine-leaf cutting into cucumber salad works better with uniformly shaped cucumbers than with curved specimens. In addition, the trade benefited from the problem-free packaging and the easier transport of straight versus crooked cucumbers, especially since the same number of cucumbers always fit in a standardized box. Because cucumbers are wholesaled per pack , but in retail per piecetraded, the traders' profit margins per unit sold could be made more transparent.

As a result of the regulation, one cucumber was the same as another in almost all major European shops. Cucumbers that deviated from the prescribed standards were not allowed to be sold as quality products with a quality seal, so they were usually cut and pickled, because pickling cucumbers were not covered by the regulations. The effort of having to process such cucumbers into pickles or the downgrading to a lower quality class for which only a lower price / income could be achieved, however, also meant that they often ended up as waste on the compost. Cucumbers that deviated from the norm were almost only available directly from farmers who market their products themselves, in health food stores or from their own garden.

Associated with this was the change from "floor-keeping" cucumber plants to "hanging" rearing, which in addition to special plant breeding successes also contributed to the development of straight fruits. [8th]


The so-called cucumber regulation was synonymous with a " Eurocracy " perceived as patronizing , for regulations that did not emphasize the (poorly standardized) taste as an essential property of a food and served European critics and cabaret artists for twenty years as common evidence of the uninhibited regulatory mania of the European administration . [9] The fact that it was perceived as particularly grotesque among the numerous comparable trade standards for fruit and vegetables was due to the always cited definition of the curvature of the cucumber. Only the so-called "Eurobanana" had a comparable effect, the properties of which were introduced in 1994 by Regulation No. 2257/94with a similar density of regulations. That this regulation but was not invented by the Euro bureaucrats, but was enforced through lobbying of associations, [10] was not seen by the critics and satirists, or deliberately overlooked.

Abolition of the regulation

The impetus for abolishing the regulation came from the EU Commission . The Danish Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel made a corresponding proposal . [11] Because of the popularity of the regulation, its abolition was seen as an important symbol for the reduction of bureaucracy . For example, Edmund Stoiber , who headed a corresponding working group, spoke of a "signal for a new way of thinking in Brussels." [11]

However, resistance came from within the ranks of the member states. Sixteen countries opposed the abolition, including France, Italy, Spain and Poland. [11] [12] [13] They were supported by the European farmers' association Copa-Cogeca and Freshfel , the association of fruit and vegetable traders in the EU. [14] The German Farmers' Association (DBV) also called the abolition "incomprehensible and incomprehensible" and warned against "rummaging tables" in self-service sales in the supermarket. [15] The association also submitted that the abolition of the norm was purely symbolic politics. [13]Retailers criticized the fact that after the standard was deleted, the products could no longer be compared and stacked. [16]

Initially, the German Ministry of Agriculture also spoke out against repeal. [13] However, since the CSU , to which the then responsible Federal Minister Horst Seehofer belonged, traditionally ranks among the fiercest opponents of the “Eurocracy”, which, with Edmund Stoiber, also provides the EU commissioner for de-bureaucratization, the ministry finally swung around. The responsible speaker is said to have been transferred by Seehofer, because he misjudged the symbolism of the regulation. [13] Critics feared in particular that instead of a European regulation, in extreme cases, there would soon be 27 national curvature standards. [14]Although a majority of the EU states were in favor of maintaining the regulation, the Commission ultimately prevailed in the Management Committee with its wish, as the opponents did not bring together the necessary quorum of votes against the Commission. [17]

At the same time, similar marketing standards were abolished for zucchini, carrots, leeks, asparagus, apricots, artichokes, aubergines, avocados, beans, various types of cabbage, cherries, mushrooms, garlic, whole hazelnuts, walnuts, melons, onions, peas, plums, celery , Spinach and chicory. The regulations no longer apply from July 1, 2009. Standards such as “clean” and “practically free from pests” remained binding. In contrast, detailed specifications remained for the eleven most frequently sold products, apples, pears, citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, which make up 75 percent of EU trade in fruit and vegetables. [2]

National and private sector norms

Even after the deregulation of the European administration, the ECE standard of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE) remained, which, unlike European regulations, has no legal force. The ordinance also survived in a number of national regulations.

The market also continues to make use of the repealed directive, in some cases retaining it as a private standard, for example from supermarket chains, or using the corresponding ECE standard as a reference. [2] Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl , which together implement more than half of the market share in fruit and vegetables in Germany, [13] have an interest in efficient standards, so that the majority of the cucumbers on the market are still available even after the European regulation does not differ from the earlier commercial classes.



Individual evidence

  1. Harald Freiberger: Justice for the cucumber. Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 12, 2013, accessed on June 12, 2013 .
  2. a b c The long farewell to the EU cucumber standard. In: NZZ from August 5, 2008
  3. Ulrich Kremer: The gherkin norm and its backers. Notes on the Brussels bureaucracy. In: NZZ Folio 10/92
  4. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Brexit - Das Geheimnis there gekrümmten Gurken , June 23, 2016 nach Bertel Haarder : The soft cynicism - and self-deception in The Sleeping Beauty-Denmark. Gyldendal , Copenhagen 1997.
  5. BGBl. No. 136/1968
  6. Christian Lettner: The EU-Gurkenkkurmmung - Poetry and Truth. Austrian Society for European Politics, PDF file ( Memento of the original from May 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Vorlage: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. § 52, paragraph 3, lit. a of the quality class regulation
  8. Christian Lettner: The EU-Gurkenkkurmmung - Poetry and Truth. Austrian Society for European Politics, PDF file ( Memento of the original from May 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Vorlage: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. "over decades ... the killing argument of talk show populists and Stammtisch philosophers", see Harald Freiberger: Gerechtigkeit für die Gurke
  10. The Gurkennorm and its backers NZZ October 1992, accessed on August 15, 2019.
  11. a b c Karen Haak: EU cucumbers are allowed to lie crooked again. In: Handelsblatt of November 12, 2008.
  12. EU governments insist on defining the curvature of the cucumber. In: Der Tagesspiegel from June 16, 2008
  13. a b c d e Hendrik Kafsack and Michael Stabenow: Out for meticulous EU requirements. Now the cucumber can be crooked again. In: FAZ of November 12, 2008
  14. a b Daniel Saameli: Struggle of the cucumber norm. In: Tagblatt of July 30, 2008
  15. EU standard on the degree of curvature of the cucumber is no longer applicable. In: Der Tagesspiegel from November 12, 2008 ; Harald Fercher: Finally! The cucumber is free, now it can also be crooked , in; Wirtschaftsblatt from June 29, 2009 ( Memento from June 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  16. New chance for battered vegetables. In: from July 1, 2009.
  17. Reduction of bureaucracy. The EU soon doesn't care about the curvature of the cucumber. In: Die Welt from November 12, 2008