Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2014

Council Minutes, 14 July 2014

ORGANIC FOOD - New proposal on organic farming – Council discussions

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Agriculture and Food Council Meeting on 14 July 2014

The Council held a policy debate on organic farming. Last March, ministers were briefed by the Commission about its proposal for a review of the legal framework for organic production and farming in Europe (17375/13). The Hellenic presidency started the examination of the legislative proposal at some working party meetings. The current Presidency indicated that this issue constitutes a priority in its work programme.

Most of the member states welcomed the Commission's intention to simplify the rules applicable to organic production and raise consumer confidence in organic products. As regards the rules for organic production, the Commission has proposed strengthening and harmonising production rules by removing the current exceptions. A number of delegations expressed their concerns over such a drastic change to the current legislation on organic farming considering that it may constitute a risk for the growth of the organic sector. Several delegations were in favour of undertaking a review of the current exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

For the control systems, the Commission has proposed removing the current requirement for a mandatory annual verification of compliance for all operators and reinforcing the risk analysis based approach to official controls. Furthermore, the proposal requires all operators along the organic chain to be subject to the control system. Finally, there is a provision that modifies the control system by integrating all control-related provisions into the Commission proposal for a Regulation on official controls in food and feed. However, many member states were not in favour of including control of the organic chain in the official feed and food control proposal, because they considered it was not the same type of control.

Finally, concerning delegated acts, the Commission has introduced the possibility of using delegated acts to modify specific organic rules, arguing that it would make the legislation more user-friendly. A number of delegations expressed their opposition to such extended use of delegated acts and were of the opinion that production rules should be contained in the basic act and modified by co-decision.

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