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Organic farming: new EU rules adopted

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On 22 May the Council adopted new EU rules on organic production and the labelling of organic products.

The new regulation encourages the sustainable development of organic production in the EU and aims at guaranteeing fair competition for farmers and operators, preventing fraud and unfair practices and improving consumer confidence in organic products.

Old rules covering organic production were uneven across the EU, as they included a wide range of different practices and exceptions. Furthermore the principle of equivalence applying to imported organic food created a situation in which different standards applied to different producers from the same country.

A new legislative framework was therefore needed to equip a fast-growing sector with clear and stable rules, and to allow organic producers to compete fairly, independently from whether they produce in the EU or in a third country. Moreover thanks to the new rules consumers buying a product bearing the EU organic logo can be sure of getting the same quality across the EU.

As from 1 January 2021:

  • Production rules will be simplified and further harmonised through the phasing out of a number of exceptions and derogations.
  • The control system will be strengthened thanks to tighter precautionary measures and robust risk-based checks along the entire supply chain.
  • Producers in third countries will have to comply with the same set of rules of those producing in the EU.
  • The scope of organic rules will be enlarged to cover a wider list of products (e.g. salt, cork, beeswax, maté, vine leaves, palm hearts) and additional production rules (e.g. deer, rabbits and poultry).
  • Certification will be easier for small farmers thanks to a new system of group certification.
  • There will be a more uniform approach to reduce the risk of accidental contamination from pesticides.
  • Derogations for production in demarcated beds in greenhouses will be phased out.

Next steps:
The new regulation will enter into force on the third day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and will apply from 1 January 2021.

  Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products.
  For more details, see Green light to new European rules on organic farming.

SOURCE: The European Council