Organic production and the organic foodstuffs sector in the European Union is established as a sustainable farming and production system which fulfils a dual societal role by responding to an increasing consumer demand for organic products while also delivering public goods which contribute to the protection of the environment, animal welfare and rural development.
Good progress has been made in developing the organic sector and protecting consumer interests. Taking into account the experience gained from the application of the rules to date and considering the dynamic evolution of the sector, certain issues linked to the organic production method, and the need to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market and control system make it appropriate to further improve the Union rules on organic farming.
The Counciol of the European Union calls on the Member States and the European Commission, in accordance with their respective competences, to:
- Develop the organic farming sector at an ambitious level by reviewing the current legal framework, with a view to improving its usability while providing for a period of stability and certainty, and aiming at :
- further clarification and simplification;
- addressing the current outstanding issues requiring further development;
- clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term 'organic' for non Annex I products;
- providing guidance on the organic claims associated with the preparation of organic products in mass catering operations.
- Continue to reduce to the minimum the various exceptions outlined in the regulations, while providing flexibility in the application of the production rules to accommodate the specific circumstances and stage of development of the sector at Member State level.
- Acknowledge the work of the Expert Group on Technical Advice on Organic Production (EGTOP) in relation to the approval, inclusion or deletion of various substances in the Annexes; and calls on the Commission to review the current technical advice process with a view to improving its effectiveness while ensuring that the standards are not weakened.
- Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations. Explore proposals for the adoption of a rigorous, proportionate, cost-efficient control regime which should include the unambiguous allocation of responsibilities between the relevant control stakeholders and a harmonised sanction regime agreed at European level.
- Strengthen and enhance lines of communication between all control agencies and explore ways of further improving the production, presentation and rapid dissemination of relevant information, documentation and data.
- Identify and overcome remaining obstacles in the legal framework to ensure fair competition and the proper functioning of the internal market in organic products; and calls on the Commission to seek harmonisation in the interpretation of the regulations and implementing rules and provide guidelines where divergence may arise.
- Encourage the Commission to improve the current mechanisms to facilitate international trade in organic products and require reciprocity and transparency in any trade agreements. Ensure that the import procedure is robust and does not put EU operators at a disadvantage.
Monday May 13, 2013/ Consilium/ European Union.