The European Council adopted new regulation providing the rules for organic farming clears the final hurdle for the modernisation of the sector and the harmonisation of rules covering organic production. The new regulation aims at guaranteeing fair competition for farmers and operators and improving consumer confidence in organic products.
The EU Council formally adopted the text of the new EU Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products. The regulatory development process was very lengthy
and contentious. Several of the EU Member States (MS) voiced skepticism on the need for new organic regulations, given that the existing regulation has been operational for less than ten years. In the end,the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Cyprus voted against the regulation. Belgium, Hungary and Austria abstained. Nevertheless, the legislative act has been adopted. It will apply from January 1, 2021.
Non-EU organic products that are imported to the EU will also have to comply with the single set of rules. The rules state that processed products labelled as organic must contain at least 95% organic agricultural ingredients. Seeds and other plant reproductive material and process agricultural products used as food and feed will also have to comply with the new standardised rules.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE EU ORGANIC REGULATION?
From January 1, 2021:
• Organic trade must transition to trade agreements by 2026;
• EU organic production rules will be simplified and further harmonized through the phasing out of a number of exceptions and derogations;
• The inspection control system will be partially risk-based and, for most cases, would reduce
inspections to once every two years;
• The scope of organic rules will be enlarged to cover a wider list of products (e.g. salt, cork,
• beeswax, maté, vine leaves, and palm hearts) and additional production rules (e.g. deer, rabbits and poultry);
• Derogations for production in demarcated beds in greenhouses will be phased out.
Latest available data of 2016  shows that organic land represents 6.7% of the EU agriculture land and that organic retail sales amounted to € 30.7 billions, with an annual growth of 12%. This is unprecedented in the rest of the agri-food sector. Organic is one of the few positive economic stories of growing demand for sustainable food with a market that meets consumer and community expectations for high quality food that also protects and improves the state of the environment. Organic also delivers solutions that help meeting the political priorities of the EU concerning employment, the environment, and sustainable economic development. Finally, organic is a dynamic factory of ideas and innovations, which are then transferred to both organic and non-organic farmers and the conventional industry at large.