The IFOAM EU Group has continued to stand its ground against proposals from the EU Commission and pushed for new organic 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.