Spain: Citrus growers request phytosanitary protection from third countries

Representatives of the Spanish citrus sector organizations have sent a letter to the Spanish MEPs asking them to ensure the protection of European plantations from the entry of vegetable products and materials from third countries.

Organizations like COAG, ASAJA, UPA, Cooperativas Agroalimentarias, the Interprofessional Association of Lemon and Grapefruit (Ailimpo), FEPEX and the Citrus Management Committee have joined the initiative.

Recently, negotiations have started in the framework of the trilogues; the goal is to reach an agreement regarding the Proposal of the European Parliament and the Council on protective measures against plant pests: the Plant Protection Act. One of the most important and controversial issues of this regulation is the principle that must govern the conditions under which the EU will allow the entry of products and plant materials from third countries in the future.

The Spanish sector recalled that recent cases, like that of the Xyllela fastidiosa, or repeated interceptions of Black Spot, affect mainly the southern countries of the EU. These, like other highly devastating pests, which cannot be eradicated once introduced, are threatening to spread to Mediterranean plantations and deem the existing protection systems absolutely insufficient.

The Spanish sector has backed the proposal led by France and Spain to establish an official whitelist. This way, the EU would only grant access to products from given countries, allowed on grounds of them being able to offer adequate security and phytosanitary controls, thus posing no threats. This measure would not serve as a "trade barrier", as it wouldn't take a toll on the flow of most traditional shipments. This proposal entails a change from the current blacklist approach, which has proved ineffective.

The Spanish sector hopes EC institutions will thoroughly review this approach and will not prioritise commercial interests over the protection of European plantations and products.

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