New amendment to EU organic imports regime

On June 21, 2012 the new implementing regulation 508/2012 was published, amending regulation 1235/2008, regarding imports of organic products from third countries. The changes described in the new regulation are referring mainly to the control bodies responsible for carrying out the inspections of organic products in the third countries whilst another very important change is that the role of the competent Authorities (Ministry of Rural Development and Food for Greece) in the Member States is gradually  limited regarding granting authorizations for imports. With the old system, when organic products are imported from a third country not listed in the equivalence Annex of the EU regulation, the competent Authority of the Member State where the importer operates, is conducting the evaluation whether the lot has been produced and controlled with equivalent criteria against the EU regulation for organic production. The Member States with the new regime in place will continue to grant authorizations in a case by case base but this will affect primarily product categories (ex. unprocessed plant products, processed animal products, etc.) out of the third country’s scope of equivalence.  With the old system more than 4.000 authorisations are granted in a yearly basis in the EU mainly from Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and the UK. All information is filed and updated at the organic farming information system OFIS.

Private control bodies are taking over control and certification of organic products in third countries while supervision is held by the European Commission itself (evaluation, authorisation and monitoring). This change has been considered necessary in order to facilitate trade because imports of organic products from third countries are representing 15% of the organic products consumed in the EU every year. These products are not usually produced in any European country (ex. coffee, bananas, etc).

Regarding third countries that have equivalent production and control systems in place, these will be included in the equivalence list for a 3 year period with an option of extending the inclusion period if they continue to meet the equivalence criteria set out in the EU regulation. Annex III of the implementing regulation has a fully detailed list of all the third countries with equivalent systems, the product categories for each country and the particulars of the authorised control bodies (full name & website).

You may download the new implementing regulation from our European Regulations page.

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