The European Parliament and The European Council have reached a preliminary agreement on overhauling existing rules governing organic production and labelling. 

The agreed regulation aims to establish more “modern and uniform” rules across the EU to support the “sustainable development” of organic production in the bloc, increase consumer confidence in organic products and place European organic producers on a level playing field with imported products. 

“People want greener and healthier food on their plates and the demand for organic products in the EU is growing by the day. We are proud to announce an agreement on new rules that will unlock the potential of the organic sector, support farmers and increase the trust of consumers,” Clint Camilleri, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal rights and president of The European Council, said. 

The new rules aim to enhance “legal clarity” to harmonise and simplify production rues. By strengthening the control system, placing checks on retailers and adopting a risk-based approach to controls, European regulators also hope to increase consumer confidence in organic products. 

Additionally, the proposals will make competition between EU and imported products “fairer” because the compliance system will be adopted by control bodies in third countries when determining whether a product can be exported to the EU with organic claims, The European Council said in a statement. 

Organic rules will be expanded to cover a wider list of products and small farmers will be supported through a system of group certification. 

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The agreement comes after three years of negotiations and has to be formally endorsed by The European Council and the Parliament. The deal still requires the approval of The European Council’s Special Committee on Agriculture. After legal and technical revision of the text and formal endorsement by the EU, the new legislation will be submitted to The European Parliament. The new regulation will apply from July 2020.