Curved cucumbers, slimline carrots and other misshapen fruit and vegetables could be given a reprieve under plans to scrap European Union rules on 26 products grown in the EU.

The European Commission has been asked to simplify the current fruit and veg marketing standards that impose how curvy a cucumber can be and what length and colour many other fruits and vegetables should be.

One outcome could be that retailers across Europe, rather than mandarins in Brussels, decide the size and appearance of much of the fresh produce they sell.

Under current European law, retailers must adhere to strict standards on the appearance of fruit and vegetables.

For example, a cucumber can only be class 1 if it curves less than 10mm per 10cm of length; peaches below 56mm in diameter cannot be sold between July and October; carrots must be at least 2cm wide, class 1 green asparagus must be at least 80% green and class 1 aubergines can't have cracks covering more than 3cm2.

The EC intends to cull the number of standards from 36 to 10, repealing rules on, among others, apricots, avocados, onions, melons, plums, cucumbers, courgettes and garlic and replacing them with a set of generic minimum standards.

Standards for the 10 biggest-selling fruit categories, including apples, citrus fruit, tomatoes, peaches, strawberries and table grapes, will, however, remain unchanged.

Rules on bananas and other fruit and veg grown outside the EU will also be unaffected.

Marketing standards were introduced to ensure retailers knew what they were buying without having to physically check products and to prevent consumers from being misled.

However, retailers have also developed their own standards. The European Commission hopes that simplification of the rules will ease the burden on suppliers. Although the plans have not yet reached the formal proposal stage they have been met with opposition by some member states following meetings in Brussels.

Last month Italian and Spanish delegations, with backing from France and Hungary, filed a note to the European Commission saying that the move amounted to "a dismantling of the marketing standards system".

"Marketing standards play an important role in facilitating and ensuring transparency in market operations, while also protecting consumers," the note said.

UK producers were still unclear on what effect the changes would have on them and needed further clarity on the proposals.

"We don't know exactly what they mean," said Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium.

"Would each individual member state be able to interpret generic standards as this wish?

"Imagine the complexity that would cause. What the current standards provide is a level playing field."

Defra would not confirm whether the UK was backing the changes but Jenney said this was likely.

"I expect the UK government view will be for simplification. It is likely to support the proposal."

A final vote on the changes was expected to be called this month with the proposed changes coming into force at the start of next year.