The agreement on new rules for organic farming endorsed today by Council representatives will simplify and harmonise many of the rules covering organic food production both within the European Union and in non-EU countries.
Welcoming the important step towards the final adoption of the new Regulation, Commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan said:
"Today's decision of the Council is another milestone for the organic sector, which ensures that this important and rapidly growing sector can continue to expand with clear rules and can be assured of being on an equal footing with producers from non-EU countries who export their organic produce into the EU.
What everyone agreed on was that the current rules – which are 20 years old now – were not fit for purpose and were likely to hinder rather than help the development of this growing sector which is worth around €27 billion, and has grown by 125% over the last decade. We must support this growth by ensuring that the sector operates with appropriate legislation. This growth will be helped by smaller producers, who will now be allowed to join group certification schemes so as to benefit from lower certification costs. Moreover, organic farmers will now have access to a new market of organic seeds which will improve biodiversity, crop sustainability and will boost innovation.
Throughout these negotiations, which lasted over three years, the Commission had in mind, at all times, the European consumer who buys organic produce and has reasonable certain expectations about the guarantees that the EU organic logo brings. The new rules endorsed today put an end to the current à la carte system of exceptions. The same rules will apply to all organic producers and products sold in the EU, whether produced domestically or imported. Tighter precautionary measures will also reduce the risk of accidental contamination by unauthorised substances. Consumers will also benefit from greater choice, as the new rules will cover a wider variety of organic food and non-food items than in the past (such as salt, cork or essential oils).
Following today's decision by the Council, I hope that the co-legislators can now proceed quickly to conclude a first reading agreement and facilitate the entry-into-force in 2021. This will allow the sector to prepare adequately for a new and supportive legislative environment and help the thriving sector to continue its growth and to reach its full potential, based on the principle of operating on a level-playing field."
The agreement endorsed today by the Council will go to vote in the European Parliament. Once adopted, the new rules will enter into force on 1 January 2021. This will give enough time for producers, operators and trade partners to adapt to the new framework.
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