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European Commission proposes revised EU rules on organic farming

A proposed new Regulation updating EU rules on organic production and labelling of organic products was adopted by the European Commission today.


A proposed new Regulation updating EU rules on organic production and labelling of organic products was adopted by the European Commission today. Consumer and producer concerns are at the heart of the proposal, which seeks to address shortcomings of the current system.

The revisions are needed to:

  • maintain consumer confidence by strengthening rules on production in line with consumer concerns and reinforcing and improving the control system. As the organic market relies on consumer confidence, fraud can have a very detrimental effect;
  • maintain producers’ confidence in the system by applying the same production rules throughout the EU, thereby guaranteeing fair competition for organic producers and uniformly high standards;
  • remove obstacles to developing organic farming in the EU, including complex, unclear legislation, technical and structural obstacles to switching to organic production or maintaining organic methods, high certification costs and red tape.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, said today: “The future of the organic sector in the EU depends on the quality and integrity of the products sold under the European organic logo. The Commission is looking for more and better organic farming in the EU by consolidating consumer confidence in organic products and removing obstacles to the development of organic agriculture. This package is good for consumers and good for farmers. Consumers will have better guarantees on organic food made and sold in the EU and farmers, producers and retailers will have access to a larger market, both within and outside the EU”.

To help organic farmers, producers and retailers adjust to the proposed policy changes and meet future challenges, the Commission has also approved an Action Plan on the future of organic production in Europe. The plan foresees better informed farmers on rural development and EU farm policy initiatives encouraging organic farming, strengthened links between EU research and innovation projects and organic production and encouragement on the use of organic food, e.g. in schools.

The legislative proposals are also accompanied by an impact assessment that evaluates alternative scenarios for the evolution of the policy.

Why reform the current policy?

The overall objective of the EU political and legislative framework is the sustainable development of organic production. While the organic market has increased fourfold and organic farming in the EU is expected to develop in line with market developments, the EU organic land area has only doubled in the last 10 years. However, neither internal supply, nor the legislative framework have kept up with this market expansion. This risks limiting both the expansion of the organic market and the environmental benefits associated with organic farming.

What next:

The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council of Ministers. The expected timeframe for the new rules is 2017 to allow organic producers, traders and retailers enough time to adjust to the new rules.

Visit the EU organic farming website

Read the report: Facts and figures on organic agriculture in the European Union

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