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EU rules on producing and labelling organic products (from 2022)

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EU) 2018/848 – rules on the organic production and labelling of organic products

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

It aims to revise and strengthen the European Union’s (EU) rules on organic production and the labelling of organic products in relation to:

  • the control system;
  • the trade regime;
  • production rules.

In this way, it aims to:

  • create a level playing field for operators;
  • harmonise and simplify rules;
  • improve consumer confidence in organic products and in the EU’s organic logo.

It repeals and replaces the previous legislation (Regulation (EC) No 834/2007) from 1 January 2022.

KEY POINTS

  • The regulation builds upon and broadens the scope of the EU’s legislation on the production and labelling of organic products to also cover products closely linked to agriculture, such as cork, salt, essential oils, cotton and wool.
  • It harmonises the rules applicable to organic operators in the EU Member States and non-EU countries through the introduction of a compliance system.
  • It simplifies access to the scheme for small operators.
  • It reviews the livestock organic production rules and introduces rules for new species, such as rabbits.

Principles

Organic production should:

  • respect natural systems and cycles;
  • maintain and improve the state of the soil, water and air, and plant and animal health, and the balance between them;
  • preserve the elements of natural landscapes;
  • use energy and natural resources responsibly;
  • produce a wide variety of high-quality products to meet consumer demand;
  • ensure the integrity of organic production at all stages of the production, processing and distribution processes of food and animal feed;
  • exclude the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)* and products produced from or by GMOs*, other than veterinary drugs;
  • restrict the use of external inputs;
  • design and manage biological processes using methods based on risk assessment and the use of precautionary and preventive measures;
  • exclude animal cloning;
  • ensure a high level of animal welfare.

Requirements

Among other things, organic farming must:

  • maintain and enhance soil life and its natural fertility, stability, water retention capacity and biodiversity;
  • use seeds and animals with a high degree of genetic diversity, disease resistance and longevity;
  • choose plant varieties – taking into account the characteristics of specific organic production systems – focusing on agronomic performance and disease resistance;
  • choose animal breeds to take into account their genetic value, longevity, vitality and resistance to diseases and health problems;
  • practise site-adapted and land-related breeding.

Production

To avoid adverse effects on the environment and on animal and plant health, producers must:

  • take preventive measures at each stage of production, preparation and distribution to:
    • preserve biodiversity and soil quality,
    • prevent the occurrence of pests and diseases,
    • control these pests and diseases;
  • take proportionate and precautionary measures to avoid contamination with products or substances not authorised for use in organic production.

Conversion period

  • When a farm wishes to produce organic products, it must go through a conversion period during which it must be managed according to organic production rules, although its products at this stage are not considered to be organic. It can only place its products on the market as organic products once this conversion period has elapsed and has been checked.
  • Moreover, food and feed products of plant origin containing only one agricultural crop ingredient can be marketed as in-conversion products, provided that there has been a conversion period of 12 months before the harvest. This rule now also applies to plant reproductive material (including seeds and plants at any stage of growth used to produce entire plants) .
  • Following the conversion period, any EU-based farm wishing to move to organic production must be managed fully in line with organic production requirements.
  • The regulation also allows farms with both organic and non-organic production, on condition that their activities (non-organic, in-conversion and organic) are clearly and genuinely separated.

Certification

  • Operators (e.g. producers, processors and distributors) must notify the relevant authorities of their activities so that the authorities can officially certify that they comply with the organic production and labelling rules.
  • The regulation introduces a new system of group certification* for small farmers, making it easier for them to switch to organic farming.

Official controls and labelling

  • The control system is strengthened by means of stricter precautionary measures and more robust risk-based controls of the supply chain. In principle, on-the-spot checks are carried out on operators once a year. However, where previous controls have not revealed any instance of non-compliance over the previous 3 years, the period between physical on-the-spot inspections may be extended to up to 2 years.
  • If a control body suspects an operator of trying to place a non-authorised product on the market as ‘organic’, it must formally investigate and temporarily ban the placing on the market of that product pending the investigation’s outcome. In the event of serious or repeated infringements, operators may be prohibited from selling products described as organic for a given period or may have their certificate withdrawn.
  • Specific controls on organic farming will be complemented by the EU’s general rules on official controls along the agri-food chain (Regulation (EU) 2017/625 – see summary).

Imports

A product may be imported from a non-EU country to be sold in the EU as an organic product if certain conditions are met. It must:

  • comply with the production and control rules of the non-EU country, which are recognised under an international agreement as being equivalent to those in the EU;
  • have a certificate issued by the relevant control authorities or control bodies in non-EU countries confirming that the product complies with EU standards.

Implementing acts

The European Commission has adopted the following legal acts.

  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/464, which provides rules for applying Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards:
    • the documents needed for the retroactive recognition of periods for the purpose of conversion;
    • the production of organic products;
    • the information Member States need to provide to the Commission.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/279, which provides rules for:
    • official investigations in cases of suspicion of non-compliance;
    • the size of operator groups and the documentation of their system of internal controls;
    • minimum control requirements;
    • the national catalogue of measures in cases of non-compliance;
    • the exchange of information between the Member States and the Commission.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1165, which authorises certain products and substances for use in organic production and establishes their lists.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1378, which provides rules for the certificate issued to operators, groups of operators and exporters in non-EU countries involved in the imports of organic and in-conversion products into the EU, and for establishing the list of recognised control authorities and control bodies.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1935 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/723, which provides information and data on organic production and the labelling of organic products to be submitted by means of the standard model form to be used in annual reports submitted by Member States in relation to Regulation (EU) 2017/625.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2119, which provides detailed rules for certain records and declarations required from operators and groups of operators and on the technical means for the issuance of certificates, and which introduced amendments to Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1378 regarding the issuance of the certificate for operators, groups of operators and exporters in non-EU countries.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2307, which provides rules for documents and notifications required for organic and in-conversion products intended for import into the EU.
  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2325, establishing the list of non-EU countries and the list of control authorities and control bodies recognised under Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 for the purpose of importing organic products into the EU.

Delegated acts

The Commission has adopted several delegated acts amending Regulation (EU) 2018/848 or its annexes.

  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/427 amends Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards certain detailed production rules for organic products. This was amended in turn by Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/269.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/1794 amends Part I of Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards the use of in-conversion and non-organic plant reproductive material.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/642 amends Annex III to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards certain information to be provided on the labelling of organic products.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/715 amends Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards the requirements for groups of operators.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/716 amends Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards organic production rules on sprouted seeds and chicory heads, on feed for certain aquaculture animals and on aquaculture parasite treatments.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1006 amends Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards the model of the certificate attesting compliance with the rules on organic production.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1691 of 12 July 2021 amends Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards the requirements for record-keeping for operators in organic production.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1697 amends Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards the criteria for the recognition of control authorities and control bodies that are competent to carry out controls on organic products in non-EU countries, and for the withdrawal of their recognition.

In addition, other delegated regulations supplement Regulation (EU) 2018/848.

  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2123 – rules for the cases where and the conditions under which identity checks and physical checks on certain goods may be performed at control points, and documentary checks may be performed at distance from border control posts, later amended by Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2305.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2124 – rules for official controls of consignments of animals and goods in transit, transhipment and onward transportation through the EU, later amended by Delegated Regulations (EU) 2020/2190 and (EU) 2021/2305.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/2146 – exceptional production rules in organic production.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/771 – specific criteria and conditions for the checks of documentary accounts in the context of official controls in organic production and the official controls of groups of operators.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1189 – the production and marketing of plant reproductive material of organic heterogeneous material of particular genera or species.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1342 – rules on the information to be sent by non-EU countries and by control authorities and control bodies for the purpose of supervision of their recognition under Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 for imported organic products and the measures to be taken in the exercise of that supervision.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1698 – procedural requirements for recognising control authorities and control bodies that are competent to carry out controls on operators and groups of operators that are certified organic and on organic products in non-EU countries, the rules on their supervision and the controls and other actions to be performed by those control authorities and control bodies.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2304 – rules on the issuance of complementary certificates certifying the non-use of antibiotics in the organic production of animal products for the purpose of export.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2305 – rules on the cases where and conditions under which organic products and in-conversion products are exempted from official controls at border control posts, the place of official controls for such products.
  • Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2306 – rules on the official controls in respect of consignments of organic products and in-conversion products intended for import into the EU and on the certificate of inspection.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 1 January 2022 (its application date was postponed by one year by Regulation (EU) 2020/1693 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related public health crisis).

BACKGROUND

For further information, see:

KEY TERMS

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Plants or animals bred by modifying their cellular and genetic make-up, in order to, for example, have a higher yield or resist disease.
Products produced from or by GMOs. (a) Products that are derived in whole or in part from GMOs, but do not themselves contain or consist of GMOs (e.g. potatoes produced from GMO seed potatoes);

(b) Products that are derived using a GMO as the last living organism in the production process, but do not themselves contain or consist of GMOs, nor are they produced from GMOs (e.g. sugar and starch manufactured from a GMO vegetable source).

Certification. A certification system that identifies the producers who comply with the rules governing organic production and the labelling of organic products. Because small farmers individually face relatively high inspection costs and administrative burdens linked to organic certification, a system of group certification is introduced and defined, reflecting the needs and resource capacity of these farmers.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 (OJ L 150, 14.6.2018, pp. 1–92).

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2325 of 16 December 2021 establishing, pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council, the list of third countries and the list of control authorities and control bodies that have been recognised under Article 33(2) and (3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 for the purpose of importing organic products into the Union (OJ L 465, 29.12.2021, pp. 8–88).

See consolidated version.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2304 of 18 October 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council with rules on the issuance of complementary certificates certifying the non-use of antibiotics in organic production of animal products for the purpose of export (OJ L 461, 27.12.2021, pp. 2–4).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2305 of 21 October 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council with rules on the cases where and conditions under which organic products and in-conversion products are exempted from official controls at border control posts, the place of official controls for such products and amending Commission Delegated Regulations (EU) 2019/2123 and (EU) 2019/2124 (OJ L 461, 27.12.2021 , pp. 5–12).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2306 of 21 October 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council with rules on the official controls in respect of consignments of organic products and in-conversion products intended for import into the Union and on the certificate of inspection (OJ L 461, 27.12.2021, pp. 13–29).

See consolidated version.

Corrigendum to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2306 of 21 October 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council with rules on the official controls in respect of consignments of organic products and in-conversion products intended for import into the Union and on the certificate of inspection (OJ L 13, 20.1.2022, p. 76).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2307 of 21 October 2021 laying down rules on documents and notifications required for organic and in-conversion products intended for import into the Union (OJ L 461, 27.12.2021, pp. 30–39).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2119 of 1 December 2021 laying down detailed rules on certain records and declarations required from operators and groups of operators and on the technical means for the issuance of certificates in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council and amending Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1378 as regards the issuance of the certificate for operators, groups of operators and exporters in third countries (OJ L 430, 2.12.2021, pp. 24–27).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1935 of 8 November 2021 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/723 as regards the information and data on organic production and labelling of organic products to be submitted by means of the standard model form (OJ L 396, 10.11.2021, pp. 17–26).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1698 of 13 July 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council with procedural requirements for the recognition of control authorities and control bodies that are competent to carry out controls on operators and groups of operators certified organic and on organic products in third countries and with rules on their supervision and the controls and other actions to be performed by those control authorities and control bodies (OJ L 336, 23.9.2021, pp. 7–41).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1378 of 19 August 2021 laying down certain rules concerning the certificate issued to operators, groups of operators and exporters in third countries involved in the imports of organic and in-conversion products into the Union and establishing the list of recognised control authorities and control bodies in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 297, 20.8.2021, pp. 24–31).

See consolidated version.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1189 of 7 May 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the production and marketing of plant reproductive material of organic heterogeneous material of particular genera or species (OJ L 258, 20.7.2021, pp. 18–27).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1165 of 15 July 2021 authorising certain products and substances for use in organic production and establishing their lists (OJ L 253, 16.7.2021, pp. 13–48).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/279 of 22 February 2021 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council on controls and other measures ensuring traceability and compliance in organic production and the labelling of organic products (OJ L 62, 23.2.2021, pp. 6–23).

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/771 of 21 January 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council by laying down specific criteria and conditions for the checks of documentary accounts in the framework of official controls in organic production and the official controls of groups of operators (OJ L 165, 11.5.2021, pp. 25–27).

See consolidated version.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/2146 of 24 September 2020 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards exceptional production rules in organic production (OJ L 428, 18.12.2020, pp. 5–8).

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/464 of 26 March 2020 laying down certain rules for the application of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the documents needed for the retroactive recognition of periods for the purpose of conversion, the production of organic products and information to be provided by Member States (OJ L 98, 31.3.2020, pp. 2–25).

See consolidated version.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2123 of 10 October 2019 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards rules for the cases where and the conditions under which identity checks and physical checks on certain goods may be performed at control points and documentary checks may be performed at distance from border control posts (OJ L 321, 12.12.2019, pp. 64–72).

See consolidated version.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2124 of 10 October 2019 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards rules for official controls of consignments of animals and goods in transit, transhipment and onward transportation through the Union, and amending Commission Regulations (EC) No 798/2008, (EC) No 1251/2008, (EC) No 119/2009, (EU) No 206/2010, (EU) No 605/2010, (EU) No 142/2011, (EU) No 28/2012, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/759 and Commission Decision 2007/777/EC (OJ L 321, 12.12.2019, pp. 73–98).

See consolidated version.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/723 of 2 May 2019 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the standard model form to be used in the annual reports submitted by Member States (OJ L 124, 13.5.2019, pp. 1–31).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products, amending Regulations (EC) No 999/2001, (EC) No 396/2005, (EC) No 1069/2009, (EC) No 1107/2009, (EU) No 1151/2012, (EU) No 652/2014, (EU) 2016/429 and (EU) 2016/2031 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 1/2005 and (EC) No 1099/2009 and Council Directives 98/58/EC, 1999/74/EC, 2007/43/EC, 2008/119/EC and 2008/120/EC, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 854/2004 and (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 89/608/EEC, 89/662/EEC, 90/425/EEC, 91/496/EEC, 96/23/EC, 96/93/EC and 97/78/EC and Council Decision 92/438/EEC (Official Controls Regulation) (OJ L 95, 7.4.2017, pp. 1–142).

See consolidated version.

last update 23.03.2022

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