On 24 March 2014 the European Commission published its legislative proposal for a new organic regulation complemented by annexes, the impact assessment report and a new European Organic Action Plan.

This was the result of a process started in 2012 when the Commission decided to review the current legislative and political framework for organic farming. On December 18, The IFOAM EU Group revealed that proposals for new organic regulations from the EU Commission were unacceptable and it pushed for regulations that build on existing organic regulations across Europe.

EU Agriculture Ministers endorsed a non-binding report summarising the progress made under the strong leadership of the Italian Presidency on the Commission proposal for a new organic regulation.

Nevertheless, a legally binding, partial general approach was rejected, as concerns with the Commission’s flawed proposal were too great. Speaking at the meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that organic is a key sector in Europe for job creation, is growing 9% a year and this must be supported by regulation. He continued: “No one disputes the fact that the current proposal is unacceptable.”

“It is very positive that the Council and Commission acknowledge how problematic the Commission proposal would be to organic food and farming,” said IFOAM EU president Christopher Stopes.

“Since the Commission launched the process, IFOAM EU has said that the most effective way to strengthen organic requirements, consumer confidence and market development is to enhance the existing regulation. We are very pleased that, in many respects, the Italian Presidency has brought the Commission proposal for the first 19 articles back into line with the current regulation.”

“Ten of the eleven guidelines proposed by the Presidency and noted by the Council match IFOAM EU demands for improvement. This success demonstrates the importance of the organic sector in Europe,” added director Marco Schlüter.

“Ministers have acknowledged the complexity of the regulation and stated that nothing can be agreed until everything is agreed. The organic sector in Europe has demonstrated its strength, with national ministries evaluating the evidence and listening to the organic stakeholders in their countries.”

IFOAM EU vice president Sabine Eigenschink said that some of the most difficult areas – controls, imports and thresholds – have not been dealt with yet. “Furthermore, the Commission must ensure sufficient resources are devoted to resolving the long outstanding topics such as poultry and greenhouses.” she added.

Key policy makers and representatives of the organic movement in Europe will gather on a “Policy Day” organized by IFOAM EU in cooperation with BIOFACH February 11 from 15:00 to 18:00 in the St. Petersburg room at the Nuremberg fairgrounds to discuss the proposal of the Commission.