United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture
Last modified: March 8, 2016

Organic Production

EU Legislation

Council Regulation 834/2007 is the EU’s general framework regulation that sets out rules for organic food production and labeling.  Commission Regulation 889/2008 sets out detailed rules for the implementation of Regulation 834/2007.

Regulation 834/2004 applies to the following products:

  • Live or unprocessed agricultural products (incl. aquaculture)
  • Processed agricultural products for us as food
  • Feed
  • Vegetative propagative material and seeds for cultivation

Animal welfare is a key requirement in organic livestock production.  Any suffering of the animals including the time of slaughtering must be kept to a minimum.  Chemically synthesized medicines including antibiotics may be used under strict conditions and only when the use of homeopathic products is inappropriate.  For plant production, only organically produced seed and propagating material may be used.  The use of plant protection products and fertilizers listed in Annexes I and II to Regulation 889/2008 is allowed under strict conditions.  Only food additives listed in Annex VIII to Regulation 889/2008 are allowed in organic food production.

Labeling

Foods may be labeled as “organic” only if at least 95 percent of their agricultural ingredients are organic as defined in Regulation 834/2007.  For products containing less than 95% organic ingredients, the term “organic” may be used only to indicate individual organic ingredients in the list of ingredients.  When reference is made to the organic production method in the ingredients list, the total percentage of organic ingredients must be indicated.

For more information on organic labeling and the use of the EU organic logo see http://www.usda-eu.org/trade-with-the-eu/eu-import-rules/eu-labeling-requirements/organic-labeling-requirements/.

Organic Wine

Commission Implementing Regulation 203/2012 amended Regulation 889/2008 to include organic wine.  It allows the use of the term “organic wine” where before the label could only mention “wine made from organic grapes”.  Regulation 203/2012 sets out the conditions to label wine as organic.  Sorbic acid and desulfurication are not allowed and the level of sulfites must be at least 30-50 mg per liter lower than their conventional equivalent.

Trade with Third Countries

In order to facilitate trade in organic products, the EU and certain third countries have recognized each other’s organic production rules and control systems as equivalent.  In June 2012, the US-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement took effect.  Organic products certified to the USDA organic standard may be sold and labeled as organic in the EU.  Shipments of organic products must be accompanied by an import certificate.

For more information please see:

EU Proposal for a New Framework Regulation

In March 2014, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new framework regulation on organic production and labeling, repealing Regulation 834/2007.  The proposal is currently under discussion by the Council and the European Parliament and is expected to be adopted in the second half of 2016.  To help organic farmers and producers adjust to the proposed policy changes and meet future challenges, the European Commission also published an Action Plan on the Future of Organic Production in the EU.

Key Facts and Figures