Brussels, 16 March 2005
The European Commission, supported by the Luxembourg Presidency and a group of Member States chosen by the Council, today finalised a deal negotiated with Russia on a harmonised phytosanitary certificate for EU exports. Russia had warned that it would close its market to all plant products originating in the EU if a single plant health certificate for EU exports was not introduced by 1 April 2005. Intense negotiations have taken place since December 2004 when the Commission got the mandate to negotiate with Russia on behalf of the EU Member States. Both parties agreed to continue technical discussions on the implementation of the new certificates. A transitional period of three months was therefore agreed so that the old and new certificates can be used in parallel.
Markos Kyprianou, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said: “Russia is an important trading partner for the EU and I am very pleased to be able to announce this deal safeguarding the trade in plant products, worth some EUR 800 million annually. Following this breakthrough in our negotiations, I look forward to continuing our dialogue with Russia on this and other important matters.”
A joint Memorandum was agreed today in technical talks followed by a meeting between Commissioner Kyprianou and Mr. Sergei Dankvert, Head of the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary service of Russia. The agreement addresses many of the technical problems raised by Russia such as improved security features on the certificates. Both sides aimed to prevent fraud in certification and the agreement provides a good basis for this. The trade in plant products is very large, including vegetables, flowers, pot plants, seeds, animal feed of plant origin, etc.
Each EU Member State will now proceed to implement the agreed certificates. A transitional period of three months has been agreed with Russia for the introduction of the new certificates. While the same certificate model based on international standards will be used throughout the EU, each exporting Member State will continue to sign the certificates used for exports from its territory.
Starting in the summer of 2004, Russia reported problems with Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis, a harmful organism) found in certain consignments of plant products. Russia also complained about the lack of security in certification. Russia blocked the trade of plant products from certain EU Member States (Denmark, Estonia, Germany and the Netherlands) perceived not to be dealing effectively with these issues. In parallel with the Commission’s negotiations, the affected countries are working bilaterally with the Russian authorities to find a solution.