Food Law News - EU - 2006

Council Minutes (5323/06), 23 January 2006

ORGANIC FOODS / PROTECTED DESIGNATIONS - Council discussions on new proposals

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Agriuclutre and Fisheries Council Meeting held on the 23 January 2006

The Council took note of the presentation by the Commission of the four proposals on foodstuffs quality, including two proposals on organic production and amending Council Regulation (EEC) n°2092/91, one proposal on agricultural products and foodstuffs as traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) and replacing Council Regulation (EEC) n°2082/92, and one proposal on the protection of geographical indications (GI) and designations of origin (DO) for agricultural products and foodstuffs and replacing Council Regulation (EEC) n°2081/92 (5101/06, 5099/06 and 5098/06).

As regards the proposals on GI's, DO's and TSG's, the Council invited the Special Committee on Agriculture to continue examination of these proposals with a view to reaching an agreement in a forthcoming Council meeting, taking into account the deadline set in the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to implement the Panel, scheduled on 3rd of April.

Concerning the proposals on organic production, the Council invited the Special Committee on Agriculture to begin detailed examination of the proposal.

The original Community legislative framework for organic production, TSG's, GI's, DO's was set up in the early nineties. In the meantime, following legislative changes, enlargement and in particular legal claims lodged by third countries ( Australia and the United-States) at the World Trade Organisation as well as technical problems when implementing these Regulations have showed the need for an overall change.

When comparing the two proposals on GI's-DO's and TSG's with Council Regulations (EEC) n°2082/92 and 2081/92, the main changes are:

As regard the two proposals on organic production and amending Council Regulation (EEC) n°2092/91, they include new definitions and objectives which aims at avoiding misleading labelling for consumers' interest, rules allowing a certain level of flexibility in the production rules for Member States to take account of local climatic, development and specific production conditions.

While excluding a compulsory EU logo for organic products for the time being, the proposals also foresee the use of a simple standardised text fragment EU-ORGANIC in cases where the product do not bear the EU logo (Articles 18 and 19 of the draft). Products containing GMOs cannot be labelled as organic, except if the GMO content is due to accidental contamination and does not exceed 0.9%. The proposal also aims at developing permanent import rules based on direct access for fully compliant or equivalent products.

These four proposals are being dealt with under the advisory procedure (Article 37 of the Treaty) and therefore the Opinion of the European Parliament is not legally binding. The adoption of the EP's Opinion is scheduled on 13 March 2006 for the two proposals on GI's, DO's and TSG's. These proposals do not have a financial impact on the Community budget.

For background, see News Items: 21 December 2005 (Organic Foods) and 4 January 2006 (Quality Products)

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