United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture

Deadlock in EU organic food rules talks

The European Parliament and Council negotiators have not been able to solve differences on a number of issues after two years and half since the European Commission presented its proposal for a new framework regulation on organic production and labeling repealing Regulation 834/2007.  For the last 6 months, the Slovak Presidency has tried to reach agreement on a compromised proposal.  However, the positions of the three EU Institutions European Commission (EC), European Parliament (EP) and Agriculture Council (represented by the Agriculture Ministers of the 28 Member States) seem to be irreconcilable.  One of the most contentious points, after 14 trilogues and several technical meetings is the presence of pesticides residues and decertification thresholds for non-authorized substances as the current proposal calls for automatic declassification for products containing multiple pesticide residues.  While the EC proposed to decertify organic food containing pesticides residues, the EP and the Council consider it “unfair” for organic farmers who may be punished for inadvertent contamination from neighboring non-organic farms.  At the Agriculture Council meeting held on December, 12, 2016, Members States decided to halt negotiations until the Maltese Presidency, starting on January, 1, 2017.  Although EU Agriculture Commissioner Hogan assured at the last Agriculture Council that it is not his intention to withdraw the proposal, some Member States, led by  Austria, and a pan-European group of 18 organic associations ask for halting the negotiations or to have a less ambitious regulation with the points already agreed by the three EU institutions.

On March, 2014 2014, the EC proposed a new regulation on organic farming with the aim of simplifying and harmonizing the EU organic rules.