The new Organic Regulation – status quo and outlook
by Karin Heinze
Part of panel discussing pro and contra of the new EU Organic Regulation. From the left side: Toomas Kevvai, Deputy Secretary-General for Food Security and Development of the Rural Ministry of Estonia, Elena Panichi, Deputy Head of the Organic Unit DG AGRI, European Commission and Professor Nic Lampkin, Organic Research Centre, UK.© Karin Heinze
At the IFOAM EU Organic Congress in Tallinn representatives of the EU and of the organic sector discussed pro and contra of the new European Organic Regulation. After a record time of more than three years and 18 trilogues Regulatino probably will be launched in June 2020, although neither the Council and Commission nor the Parliament and the stakeholders of the organic sector are completely satisfied with the compromise.
At the panel discussion moderated by Markus Arbenz Managing Director of IFOAM Organics International, Elena Panichi, Deputy Head of the Organic Unit DG AGRI, European Commission, looked back to the very long negotiations about the proposal of the Commission. She explained that the negotiated compromise that was found under the EU-presidency of Malta in June will be the base of the further working out of the Regulation.
She expects the final meetings of the Commission and the Council for the Regulation in October/ November and after that the vote of the Parliament. Ms. Panichi was confident that the Regulation will be a harmonization of the organic law for all EU members. Toomas Kevvai, Deputy Secretary-General for Food Security and Development of the Rural Ministry of Estonia, which has the EU Presidency till the end of the year, said “certainly it is a compromise but that from the view of the member states it is acceptable.
Markus Arbenz, IFOAM Organics International, moderated the panel. From the left side: Prof. Nic Lampkin, Markus Arbenz, Martin Häusling (MEP), translator, Thomas Fertl (IFOAM EU Board) © Karin Heinze
Martin Häusling, Member of the European Parliament and chief negotiator for the Organic Regulation emphasised: “Nobody is really and completely satisfied with the compromise paper. But after three years of negotiations I can say that we reached a draft that has an added value for the organic sector.” He added: There are 600 pages of the text and you must not only look at some problematic issues, because there is a true potential to make a the Regulation a senseful tool for the sector. As Professor Nic Lampkin from the Organic Research Centre in UK said, organic is much more than commodities free from pesticides. He explained that he can understand the unsecurity about this new regulation but he also reassures that there will be ways to handle the new regulation.
Associations call for further improvements
Thomas Fertl Board Member of IFOAM EU and BioAustria explained that he, IFOAM and other organic associations could not see the added value for the organic sector. He said: “It is no secret that the organic sector was not asking for a new regulation and that associations are sure that the work on the current regulation would have been more fruitful than a new draft.” Among others he quoted the regulations for residues in the draft and the import issues.
Professor Nic Lampkin outlined that there is the need of a regulation, but it should be a baseline and not a prison for organic producers. If rules are too restrictive and block the producers in their activities and innovation the regulation is on a wrong way. „In fact the Regulation should encourage organic farmers“, he said.
The participants from all over Europe listened the interesting discussions. © Karin Heinze
Private activities are welcome
Elena Panichi explained that every party in the process has its own role. She reminded the panel and the auditorium also that there are many other tools in the EU and that private activities are very welcome. An example is the European Innovation Partnership that brings new ideas also to the organic sector. Ms. Panichi also mentioned new tool that should strengthen farmers and there private along the food chain were more than welcome. On a global level there is a new initiative called ´plurilateral meets` that is involving the biggest players in the organic sector like the US, Canada, Europe, Switzerland, Chile, Japan and South Korea. In these talks the harmonisation of the international rules is discussed. This should make international trade easier and lower the burden for farmers and traders, Panichi said. Martin Häusling reqired fair rules for international competition.