Impact of the Eco Regulation on organic farmers in developing countries

Impact of the Eco Regulation on organic farmers in developing countries

The new Eco-Regulation (EU) 2018/848 is expected to change the way actors produce organic products both in the EU and in third countries.

The EU market is essential for farmers in developing countries who are committed to organic farming. Many of them are in a precarious situation, which is exacerbated by the current health, economic and social crisis.

The changes to the Regulation are expected to have a significant impact on farmers outside the EU, in particular with regard to the rules on imports and compliance.

Harmonisation of the implementation of organic legislation in non-EU countries is seen as a step forward only if it does not become an obstacle to local organic production and exports from developing countries.

On 13 October 2020, German Member of the European Parliament Marlene Mortler on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. The parliamentarian Mortler asked the European Commission  if it has “carried out an impact assessment of the new Regulation in relation to current organic producers in developing countries?” and “how can the EU ensure that adaptation measures are in place for developing countries with different administrative, climatic or natural conditions?”

On 10 November, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski officially responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, he reported that “an impact assessment was carried out by the Commission to underpin the legislative proposal to review Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production” and that “the assessment showed that the equivalent standards applied by private control bodies to certify operators in third countries were, in fact, close to those laid down in the current organic Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Implementing Regulation 889/2008”. He also added that “compliance with EU rules will maintain stable conditions for the purpose of the certification of organic producers”.

Commissioner Wojciechowski further explained that “Regulation (EU) 2018/848 also provides for a transition period of three years (Article 45) that will enable operators in third countries to adjust to compliance where needed” and that “article 45(2) of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 provides that the Commission may grant, in accordance with the relevant procedures, specific authorisation for the use of products and substances in third countries and the outermost regions”. He also underlined that “the authorisations need to take into account differences in the ecological balance in plant or animal production, specific climatic conditions, traditions and local conditions in those areas”.

In closing, Commissioner Wojciechowski declared that “when EU rules change for imported agricultural products, the Commission facilitates the transition by supporting specific programmes, through the delegations of the EU, assisting producers, exporters and administrative authorities in developing countries to adapt to the new rules”.

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