Council Regulation 834/2007 is the EU’s general framework regulation that sets out rules for organic production and labeling. Commission Regulation 889/2008 sets out detailed rules for the implementation of Regulation 834/2007.
The term “organic” and all its derivates or diminutives such as “bio” and “eco” may be used only to label products that comply with EU organic production rules and if at least 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin are organic. 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. The Annex to Regulation 834/2007 lists the term “organic” in all the official EU languages.
In 2014, the European Commission launched a proposal to reform the EU organic regulation and after more than three years of negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council, an agreement was reached. The new text now has to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council before being published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force on January, 1, 2021.
EU Organic Logo
On July 1, 2012, the use of the EU organic logo became mandatory on all pre-packaged organic products produced in the EU. Organic products imported from third countries may carry the EU organic logo if they comply with the EU production rules. When the EU organic logo appears on the label, the indication of the place of farming is required.
Commission Implementing Regulation 203/2012, applicable since August 1, 2012, 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. For more information see the European Commission’s website at http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/node/47_en.
US-EU Equivalency Arrangement
The US-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement took effect on June 1, 2012. The U.S. and EU have recognized each other’s organic production rules and control systems as equivalent under their respective rules. Organic products certified to the USDA organic standards may be sold and labeled as organic in the EU. Both the USDA organic seal and the EU organic logo may be used on products traded under this Arrangement. When using the EU organic logo, exporters must meet all the EU labeling requirements.
The new EU Organic Regulation entering into force on January, 1, 2021 will introduce the idea that trade agreements must ultimately govern EU organic trade. This means that to continue to trade in organics, the United States and the EU would need to transform their Organic Equivalence Arrangement into a Trade Agreement by January 2026, namely five years after the entry into force of the new EU regulation.