The intense discussions among national Ministers at the May 11 AGRIFISH Council meeting clearly demonstrated how difficult it is to reach agreement on an initial problematic proposal if the sector’s opinion is not appropriately taken into account, said IFOAM EU, the European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming in a media release in May.

Although there was talk of a possible vote on the Council position at the meeting, voting was postponed to June. The diversity of opinions among Member States on many key topics remained – including on thresholds, import and controls – as witnessed by an IFOAM EU delegation at the Council.

“The discussion today has shown that there will be only an agreement with the backing of the sector. The European organic sector has made it clear that it will not accept a regulation that includes a decertification threshold, in which the specific control requirements for organic are not included and that would require full compliance for imports”, says IFOAM EU board member Jan Plagge.

“We call on the Commission to finally fulfil their promise of a ‘fresh look’ and support today’s Member State majority to go for solution without decertification thresholds.”

IFOAM EU welcomed the decision by Member States to postpone voting to June, an acknowledgement that there is too much to be done to come to agreement now. The Council and Latvian Presidency have invested much effort, and did a good job in limiting the negative impacts of the Commission proposal. Mr Plagge added.

“However, the current compromise text doesn’t create a real added value with respect to the current regulation. This shows how flawed the initial proposal was and the Council has wisely chosen to take more time in order to obtain better legislation,” said Marco Schlüter, IFOAM EU director.

Organic farmers must be rewarded for their services to society and the environment, not punished for pesticides they have not introduced into the system. The decertification proposal is not only wrong-headed it could also jeopardise organic farmers who could not bear the financial risk entailed and would threaten the peaceful co-existence of organic and conventional farmers in rural areas, Albena Simeonova, IFOAM EU Board Member highlighted.

“As long as there are no harmonised rules at European level on the facilities, methods and investigative parameters used by European laboratories the implementation of such decertification thresholds would in practice not even be feasible.”