Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2017

Council Minutes, 12 June 2017

ORGANIC FOODS – Council Discussions: Organic production and labelling of organic products

The following is an extract from the Minutes of the Agriculture Council held on the 12 June 2017:

Ministers held an orientation debate on the legislative proposal for a new regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products. They focused in particular on the negotiations with the European Parliament.

Ministers restated their commitment to finding an agreement on the file and discussed possible ways of overcoming the current standstill in negotiations. They tasked the presidency to work on a compromise text that could be the basis of further discussions with the EP. The presidency therefore committed to convene bilateral meetings with the delegations in the days following the Council meeting, and to bring forward an updated text as soon as possible, with the objective of having a final trilogue with the EP by the end of its term.

However, in order to proceed however, the presidency requested a formal mandate to be given by the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) ahead of the future trilogue, and that delegates would be fully empowered to agree on a mandate at the next SCA meeting.

The proposal on organic production and labelling of organic products, presented by the Commission in March 2014, is aimed at revising the existing legislation on organic production and labelling of organic products so as to remove obstacles to the sustainable development of organic production in the EU. Its objectives are also to guarantee fair competition for farmers and operators, prevent fraud and unfair practices and improve consumer confidence in organic products. The Commission proposed to strengthen the rules on the control system, trade regime, animal welfare practices and non-authorised substances.

The Council reached a general approach on the organic regulation on 16 June 2015 and the EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) voted on its report on 13 October 2015. Negotiations started in November 2015 and so far seventeen trilogues have taken place.

The Special Committee on Agriculture considered a new revised mandate on 29 May 2017 with a view to a further round of negotiations, but the mandate could not be endorsed by the SCA.

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