You are on page 1of 5

Organic farming: main elements of the agreement

reached in Trilogue

The EP negotiating team led by AGRI Chair Czesaw Siekierski (EPP, PL)
and rapporteur Martin Husling (Greens, DE) successfully concluded
negotiations with the Council and Commission on the organic regulation
on Wednesday 28 June, after 18 trilogues and 20 months of intense
negotiations. After some technical clean-up, the provisional text of the
new Regulation replacing former Regulation 834/2007 will need to the
receive the formal approval of the Council (during either the July
Agriculture Council or the next one) before being submitted to a single
vote in AGRI (approval by a majority of votes cast in accordance with rule
69f) and then to a first-reading vote in Plenary once the text has been
finalised with lawyer-linguists. The new Regulation will apply from 1 July
2020.

The new Regulation is aimed to provide for the conditions needed for EU
organic production to develop and move away from being a niche
production, through an harmonisation of rules both within the EU and vis-
-vis imports of organic products from non-EU countries (where currently
there are more than 60 different standards applied for organic products).
The scope has been extended to products such as rabbit, deers, salt, cork
and essential oils used in cosmetics.

New rules for improving the development and access to organic


seeds and animals

At Parliaments request, the deal concluded will include new sets of rules
to improve the accessibility to seeds and plant reproductive material (such
as heterogeneous material) adapted to organic farming needs as well as
organic animals. The purpose of these rules is to improve biodiversity,
resistance to pests and diseases and adaptation to local conditions (Article
10a, new objectives introduced in Art.3a, Art. 19a etc.) with a view to
ending derogations concerning the use of conventional material and
animals until 2035. Databases will also be set by Member States to show
the availability of organic seeds and animals on the market and encourage
the development of this organic material (Art. 19a).

The compromise concluded with Council and Commission foresees the


possibility to end up at an earlier date or extend if necessary those
derogations after seven years and a report on the availability of organic
material and animals (Art. 35). In view of developing organic seed
varieties, the Commission agreed to conduct specific experiments over a
period of 7 years as part of a political declaration to be annexed to the
text of the agreement.

Precautionary measures to avoid the presence of pesticides

Regulating the issue of pesticide residues with stricter limits than those
applying to conventional food has been one of the most difficult issues
with Member States (and farming organisations) being split between those
pushing for a very low threshold (or even a zero-tolerance) at EU level and
those rejecting such threshold arguing that organic farmers should not be
made responsible for adventitious contamination from conventional farms.

The compromise found provides for a Commission report in 2024 on the


issue of pesticide residues in organic products (situation on the EU,
measures put in place by Member States such as thresholds, etc. with a
view to further harmonisation in the future (Article 35).

Meanwhile, Member States having thresholds in place or wishing to


introduce thresholds may do so.

The deal also includes, at EP request, a new set of precautionary


measures to be applied by operators to avoid pesticide contamination or
mixing of organic with non-organic products. Responsibilities of operators
and control authorities to check any suspicion they might have of
incompliance with the regulation have also been defined more clearly (Art.
20a and 20b).

Soil-related production as a principle with a 10-years derogation


for Nordic countries

Also at Parliaments initiative, the principle of soil-related production,


meaning that plants have to be grown in living soil under basic organic
farming rules has been enshrined in the text (Art 6(43e)).
The compromise reached with Council and Commission provides that
growing crops in demarcated beds shall continue to be allowed only for
those surfaces in Denmark, Finland and Sweden that have been certified
as organic before 28 June 2017. Member States had also been split on this
issue and the Presidency mandate to conclude negotiations with EP and
Commission had not been supported by the Nordic countries, which
wanted to expand their organic production in demarcated beds. The text
agreed provides that extension of the surfaces concerned by demarcated
bed production would not be allowed and that such type of production
should be phased out over a period of 10 years. Also, the Commission
should report back in 2025 on the use of demarcated beds in organic
agriculture and, if need be, table a legislative proposal on the matter
(Annex II, Part I, point 1.1d). Exceptions to the soil-related principle will
continue to apply for herbs and ornamental plants in pots.

Imports to comply with EU standards

More than 60 standards currently applied for EU imports from non-EU


countries will be replaced by a single set of rules applicable both inside
and outside the EU. It is also a guarantee for EU producers that they are
given the same chances as third country producers when they produce
organically. The agreed text makes sure that all imported products comply
with EU rules (Art 28).

Current equivalence rules, which require third countries to comply with


similar but not the same standards, should be phased out within five years
after entry into force of the regulation. (Art. 31)

However, to avoid sudden disruption of supply on the EU market, the


Commission could, for a renewable period of two years, adjust import
requirements for some products, which do not fully comply with EU
standards due to e.g. specific climate conditions (Art 28(1)(c)).

Future trade agreements will be negotiated on the basis of mutual


concessions which will give a better chance to our exports and therefore
to our organic producers and facilitate access of EU exports of organic
products to non-EU markets. Today, there is no reciprocity laid down in the
legislation. This has been remedied.

Strict controls: annual, risk-based, along the supply chain


The new Regulation has been adapted to the newly adopted Regulation on
official controls in the food chain, with specific rules applying to organic
farming maintained in the organic regulation at both EP and Councils
request.

To avoid food fraud, MEPs pushed for a stricter controls regime for organic
farming all along the supply chain. At Parliaments insistence, there will be
at least an annual physical on-site check of all operators or one in every
second year if no fraud is discovered in the last three years (Art 26b(1)
(c).

Mixed farms

Parliament and Council negotiators convinced the Commission to maintain


the possibility for farmers of running mixed farms, i.e. farms producing
both conventional and organic food, but with the condition that their
conventional farming activities are clearly and effectively separated and
differentiated from organic farming ones (Art 7).

Shadow rapporteurs : Norbert Lins (EPP, AT), Eric Andrieu (S&D,


FR), Julie Girling (ECR, UK), Ivan Jakovcic (ALDE, HR) , Lidia Senra
Rodriguez (GUE, ES), Marco Zullo (EFDD, IT) and Edouard Ferrand
(ENF, FR).

The provisional text of the agreement and the Commission Declaration on


temporary experiments for organic varieties are annexed to this note.

More information on the agreement

EP press release

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-
room/20170628IPR78527/organic-food-new-rules-for-eu-label-agreed

EP press service - Background note

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdfs/news/expert/background/20170627BK
G78420/20170627BKG78420_en.pdf
Commission press release

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-1827_en.htm

Council press release

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/06/28-rules-
organic-farming/