After almost three years of negotiations, the Member States and the European Parliament reached a consensus on this issue in June. The new rules are intended to promote organic production across the EU, to guarantee the competitiveness of organic farms and to protect consumers from fraud and unfair practices by food producers and distributors.
Regulations are intended to make life easier for organic food producers, introducing transparent, uniform and simplified rules on the production process and use of pesticides. Product inspections and specific preventive and protective measures will also be strengthened. According to EU officials, the stricter controls are intended to help increase consumer confidence in organic products.
The new rules also aim to ensure fair competition between European products and eco-food imported from outside the European Union. Firstly, third-country producers who choose to sell their goods on the EU market will have to comply with the EU's production and control rules, just like the producers in the Member States. Secondly, trade agreements with third countries will make it easier for EU organic traders to enter non-European markets.
The list of products classified as organic will also be expanded, and the new system of group certification, e.g. for producer groups, is intended to support small farms. A shared certificate will make it possible to reduce the costs of certification or inspection.
Over the past decade, the number of farms producing organic food has doubled. Every year, 500 thousand hectares of land are allocated to organic farming.
Following the confirmation of the agreement by the special agriculture commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union will have to formally agree to the legislation. The new rules will apply from 1 January 2021.