This pioneering e-certification system will contribute to enhancing food safety provisions and reducing potential fraud. It will also reduce the administrative burden for operators and authorities, and provide much more comprehensive statistical data on organic imports.
Both paper and e-certification will be used during a 6-month transition period. As of 19 October 2017, organic imports will be covered only by e-certification.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: "Our commitment to stringent certification and inspection measures is an important component in the EU's food safety standards. These high standards have allowed us to become the best address for food in the world, but we must always strive to find new and better ways to do even more. These new rules will improve the traceability of organic products, which is an important growing market."
In practical terms, the changes will require the addition of these import certificates into the Trade Control & Expert System (TRACES) – the existing EU electronic system for tracking movements of food products across the EU. Accessible 24/7, the TRACES system has been shown to facilitate trade by enabling trade partners and competent authorities to easily obtain information on the movements of their consignments, and speeding up administrative procedures. It also proved to be an invaluable tool in facilitating the rapid reaction to health threats by tracing the movements of consignments and facilitating the risk management of rejected consignments.
Following recommendations from the European Court of Auditors and a request from Member States to address concerns about monitoring the movements of organic products and the consistency of import checks, the new rules are aimed at improving the traceability of organic products and reducing potential fraud.
The Commission implementing regulation (EU) 2016/1842was published on 14 October 2016, amending Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008 as regards the electronic certificate of inspection for imported organic products and certain other elements, and Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 as regards the requirements for preserved or processed organic products and the transmission of information.
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