Common organisation of the fruit and vegetable markets
The common organisation of the fruit and vegetables market was radically changed in a 2007 reform. The reform also combined this sector with that of processed fruit and vegetables.
From 2008, the reform of the common organisation of markets in fruit and vegetables will replace the system under the current Regulation.
The products concerned are: fresh fruit and vegetables and certain types of dried fruit. The exceptions or products not covered by this regime are potatoes, grapes, bananas, sweetcorn, peas, fodder beans and olives.
The marketing years can be set by the Commission based on the opinion of the Management Committee for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.
Grading of products
To facilitate trade and increase the profitability of production, products are graded and subject to standards. The product holder is responsible for compliance with the standards. In order to be marketed, products must comply with the standards. The various items of information and in particular the product's origin, variety and grade should be displayed legibly at retail sale. These standards take account of those recommended by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards.
Standards are not enforced before products are packaged or prepared, nor for products that will be processed. The same is true for products sold directly by the grower and for certain named local products. Special measures can also be taken in the event of shortages or exceptional surpluses.
Controls are carried out in order to monitor compliance with standards at all stages of marketing.
Products imported from non-EU countries must comply with these standards or with at least equivalent standards. Similarly, Community products intended for export to non-EU countries have to comply with Community standards.
From 2008, a new system governs producer organisations and producer organisation associations. However, organisations and associations recognised as such under the current Regulation will retain their status. Where necessary, they will have to adapt to the requirements of this Regulation by 31 December 2010.
Producer organisations are legal entities recognised by the Member States and set up on the initiative of producers. Minimum recognition criteria are set, particularly as regards the number of members and turnover.
There are several categories of organisation, namely: fruit and/or vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, mushrooms and products intended for processing, as well as other organisations covering several products. These organisations, recognised by the Member States, contribute mainly to facilitating the production and marketing of products, helping producers to develop their production and encouraging the application of agri-environmental measures.
Member producers have to apply the rules adopted by their organisation and sell, save in exceptional cases, all their production through their intermediary. They also contribute financially to the operational fund.
The operational fund established by producer organisations is financed in equal parts by the producers and the European Community. In regions where the level of producer organisations is insufficient, the Member States may allocate complementary aid.
Where less than 15% of the production of the Member State is marketed by the producer organisations and where fruit and vegetable production represents 15% of the total agricultural production, this complementary aid can be reimbursed by the Community.
The funds are meant to finance both market withdrawals and operational programmes approved by national authorities or action plans presented by pre-recognised producer organisations. The proportion of the operational fund earmarked for withdrawals is a maximum of 30%. Financial assistance may not exceed 4.1% of the value of the products marketed by the organisation.
Operational programmes are meant to help producers to improve production and the marketing of products and to encourage the application of agri-environmental measures and phytosanitary standards and rules. The multi-annual operational programmes are accepted or refused by the Member States. A national set of requirements, approved by the European Commission, lays down the criteria for the acceptance of agri-environmental measures.
Following the reform of the common organisation of markets for fruit and vegetables, the operational programmes approved under this Regulation must meet the new conditions which will apply from 2008.
Producer organisations or associations of producer organisations functioning in an economic region, representative of producers and production, can ask the Member State to extend the rules adopted by the organisation or association to other producers established in the region. These producers must, under certain conditions, contribute 50% of the financing for the functioning of the organisation and to measures meant to ensure better marketing of fruit and vegetables.
The other half of the financing is covered by the European Union (EU), which limits this funding to no more than 4.1% of the value of the products marketed by the producer organisation (a change introduced by Regulation (EC) No 2699/2000).
This single ceiling of 4.1% signifies a major change to the market-organisation regime, increasing aid for the producer organisation's operational funds. The single ceiling has replaced the previous ceiling, which had been set per producer organisation at 4.5% of the value of the products they market and for all producer organisations a maximum amount of 2.5% of the total combined turnover of the organisations.
The European Commission may ask the Member States not to authorise the extension where it contravenes European competition rules or where provisions concerning the common organisation of the market in fruit and vegetables are not complied with.
Inter-trade organisations and agreements
The inter-trade organisations are composed of representatives of economic operators active in the fruit and vegetable sector and/or in several regions of the European Community. The objective of the inter-trade organisations, recognised by the Member States under the control of the European Commission, is to promote the production and marketing of fruit and vegetables and to encourage their members to implement environmental measures. Though they may clash with Community provisions on competition, business agreements are sometimes authorised within such organisations.
From time to time, producer organisations may decide not to place some of their products (see Annex II to the Regulation) on the market, provided that the use of the products does not undermine the normal disposal of products or harm the environment. For the quantities they withdraw from the market, they receive Community withdrawal compensation, a single amount valid throughout the Community (see Annex V to Regulation (EC) No 2200/96).
The compensation may not cover more than 5% of the marketed quantity for citrus fruit, 8.5% for apples and pears and 10% for the other products in question. Growers who are not members of producer organisations also have access to this intervention mechanism via a producer organisation, but the Community withdrawal compensation they receive is reduced by 10%.
Free distribution and withdrawn products
Withdrawal procedures are supervised by the Member States and the Commission. Unsold withdrawn products can under no circumstances return to the market. They have to be distributed free of charge for social and charity purposes, distilled, used for animal feed or for non-food purposes, or finally destroyed in an environmentally sound manner. The Community will bear the cost of free distribution, including, in this case, sorting and packaging costs.
Reforms to market-organisation regimes to include the new Member States
The regime for fruit and vegetables was also amended by the agriculture chapter of the Act of Accession, in particular as regards Cyprus and Malta. Malta was granted special temporary assistance for producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, scheduled to last for 11 years from the date of accession and declining gradually over that period. Cyprus was granted withdrawal compensation for apples, pears, peaches, table grapes and citrus fruit, to last for five years following the date of accession.
Trade with third countries
This system will be replaced by a new system for trade with third countries as from 2008.
Imports and exports may be subject to the issuing of an import or export licence.
The Common Customs Tariff rates of duties apply to products in the fruit and vegetable sector.
All tariff quotas for fruit and vegetables are allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis, except for the quota for garlic, bound within the WTO, for which a 'traditional/new arrivals' method has been introduced.
Where imports are likely to threaten the stability of the Community market, safeguard measures may be introduced with respect to the international obligations of the Community.
Export refunds may be granted for various fresh fruit and vegetables: apples, lemons, oranges, peaches, nectarines, table grapes, tomatoes and some nuts. Some of the refunds are granted on the basis of an amount and quantity which are set periodically and others are awarded on the basis of requests from operators and the quantities available.
When trading with third countries, it is normally forbidden to impose charges having equivalent effect to customs duties or to apply any quantitative import restrictions or measures having the same effect.
|Act||Entry into force - Date of expiry||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Regulation (EC) No 2200/96||21.11.1996||-||OJ L 297, 21.11.1996|
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Regulation (EC) No 2520/97||1.1.1998||-||OJ L 346, 17.12.1997|
|Regulation (EC) No 857/1999||27.4.1999||-||OJ L 108, 27.4.1999|
|Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999||2.7.1999||-||OJ L 160, 26.6.1999|
|Regulation (EC) No 2699/2000||15.12.2000||-||OJ L 311, 12.12.2000|
|Regulation (EC) No 2826/2000||26.12.2000||-||OJ L 328, 19.12.2000|
|Regulation (EC) No 718/2001||18.4.2001||-||OJ L 100, 11.4.2001|
|Regulation (EC) No 911/2001||18.5.2001||-||OJ L 129, 11.5.2001|
|Regulation (EC) No 545/2002||31.3.2002||-||OJ L 84, 28.3.2002|
|Regulation (EC) No 1881/2002||12.11.2002||-||OJ L 285, 23.10.2002|
|Regulation (EC) No 47/2003||31.1.2003||-||OJ L 7, 11.1.2003|
|Regulation (EC) No 1182/2007||6.11.2007||-||OJ L 273, 17.10.2007|