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Member of the European Commission
Responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development
EU – US historic partnership on organic trade
Signature of the EU-US agreement on organic trade at Biofach 2012
Nuremberg, 15 February 2012
Dear Kathleen, dear Ambassador Siddiqui, ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I am here to sign the EU – US arrangement on the mutual determination of equivalency of organic standards.
This is the beginning of a transatlantic partnership in organic agriculture.
Put in simple words, this agreement means that organic food and products certified in Europe or in the United States may be marketed and sold as organic on either side of the Atlantic.
It is good for farmers and businesses, it is good for consumers, and it is good for the future of organic agriculture.
FIRST of all, organic farmers and food producers will benefit from easier access, with less bureaucracy and less costs, to both the US and the EU markets.
The two biggest organic markets in the world, having a value of more than 43 billion Euro are getting closer together, offering more opportunities to organic producers and businesses.
This is good news for our over 200.000 organic farmers in the European Union, it is good news for the tens of thousand of businesses in this sector.
The organic sector has already a growth rate of over 7 % per year, occupying nearly 5 % of the used agriculture area in Europe. I hope this agreement will swiftly translate into more jobs and growth for this already very dynamic sector of European agriculture.
SECOND, this partnership improves the transparency on organic standards and enhances consumers' confidence and recognition of our organic food and products.
This is good news for consumers on the other side of the Atlantic as it is for consumers in Europe. They will have easier access to products coming from farming systems that rely on the sustainable use of natural resources, that respect eco-systems and the natural cycles and that come with a holistic, balanced approach to farming.
THIRD, today's agreement marks also an important step, taking the EU-US agricultural trade relations to a new level of cooperation.
This is a major boost for organic trade but also a very significant step towards more harmonisation of the production rules for the organic sector.
Within this partnership, we also agreed to set up a working group on organic production, to further improve standard setting, controls and international trade.
This partnership is the result of hard work and political determination, of an excellent spirit of cooperation and a shared conviction about the benefits of such an agreement. I want to take this opportunity to thank and to congratulate both teams of experts and negotiators for their fantastic work that led to today's signature.
I could not think of a better place to announce it than here at BioFach, the largest organic trade fair in the world.
Thank you for your attention!