"European Commission "receptive" to demands from EU garlic sector"

On 3 December, a delegation of the European garlic sector, which included members from Spain (National Garlic Bureau and ANPCA), France (ANI'AIL) and Italy, held a meeting with officials from the European Commission, including Jens Schaps, head of the Directorate C - OCM Única for Economic and Agricultural Market Analysis; Bruno Buffaria and Alex de Mul, of the Unit for General Aspects of the Agricultural Markets; Leandro Mas-Pons, of the Unit for Fruit and Vegetables, and Doris Fisch, head of the Garlic Market.

The issue addressed at the meeting, held by the Directorate General for Agriculture at the request of the sector, was the proposed elimination of the B certificates needed for the import of garlic outside the existing EU tariff quota, which professionals in the European garlic sector are opposed to, because, as has been shown in practice, they are an effective system to control fraud and should be maintained at least until a new tested and reliable system can be enforced.

The Commission, in the words of their representatives, is aware of the problems arising in the import of garlic and of the known fraud types (source, misrepresentation of product, triangulation, etc.), stressing that the matter is under the responsibility of Customs authorities and that communication to the Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is essential in cases when irregularities are detected; something which, they admit, not always happens.

In the process of 'simplification' undertaken by the Commission and the revision of Regulation 376/2008, whose entry into force is planned for early 2016, all export and import licences are expected to be eliminated and replaced by a daily Customs monitoring, since according to those responsible at the European Commission, this system would be more reliable. Garlic European professionals suggested that while the validity and effectiveness of the new system is being tested, the current licences should be kept temporarily, to which the Commission replied that this was not in their plans, but that their services would give the matter due consideration, not ruling out some kind of exception like the one planned for the sugar sector until late 2017 and asking the garlic sector to present a proposal on the matter.

After the meeting, some media, citing partial sources, have stated categorically that "the European garlic sector has managed to stop the removal of the B licences," reporting also the existence of "an agreement between the two parties (Commission and sector) to maintain the B licences for the import of garlic. "The National Garlic Bureau expressed its satisfaction with the results of the meeting held in recent days; results which they hadn't actually expected. In any case, adamantly stating that the matter has been resolved, that 'garlic has been temporarily excluded from the elimination of the B licences for their import,' is to sell the bear's skin before the hunt." They believe that, for this to happen in coming weeks, the agreement will have to be formalised on the relevant statutory provision, it will be necessary for the daily monitoring tools to start operating, together with the corresponding training and specialization plans for customs officials responsible of such monitoring.

European garlic producers and marketers claim that "in addition to the losses to the EU budget which would come from the elimination of the B licences for garlic imported from third countries, the trafficking of food may pose an added threat to the health of consumers." China, according to food and sanitary control officials, is the country with "the greatest number of food alerts due to the presence of pesticides, heavy metals and dioxins. By exempting such products from controls we can also jeopardise the health of European consumers."

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber