The new EU Organic Regulation on organic production and labeling of organic products has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, with joint efforts required for implementing and delegated acts in the next two years, IFOAM EU said in June.

Among the significant changes are that trade agreements with all Third Countries that are currently recognized as equivalent will have to renegotiate the terms for trade agreements, while there are changes to the categories of products that can be organically certified.

Today “group certification” is only allowed in developing third countries. With the new regulation, it will be allowed everywhere in the world, including the EU. And the use of natural flavors will be sharply restricted: from 2021 companies may only use in organic processing natural flavors originating from the mentioned ingredients.

"The published text represents the ‘Basic Act,’ and many details still have to be developed, which will happen in the next two years through other legal acts (delegated acts and implementing acts). The new Organic Regulation will apply from 1 January 2021," IFOAM EU said in a statement.

"IFOAM EU, the European organic food and farming movement, uses this opportunity to call on the EU Institutions to closely work with the organic movement on the upcoming implementation acts, to ensure that the new regulation will be applied in practice to the day-to-day work of all segments of the organic production chain: farmers, processors, traders, retailers and the control system.

"IFOAM EU also considers that a new EU Organic Action Plan post-2020 would make a positive contribution to the smooth application of the new Organic Regulation and would further support the development of organic farming in the EU." 

The main changes compared to the current legislation in the new regulation, for the categories of products that can be organic certified are:

  • Live and unprocessed agricultural products - animals, plants and seed, mushrooms
  • Processed food 
  • Feed

"The novelty is represented by Annex I of the new regulation, which provides a list of products that are not clearly covered by the three categories but that can still be certified," IFOAM EU said. "As it is today (June 15), mass catering operations, i.e., restaurants and canteens, are outside of the scope of the regulation. However, national or private standards can be applied."

For imports, in the new regulation, there will be two systems to import organic products from outside the EU:

Trade agreements: all Third Countries that are currently recognized as equivalent will have to renegotiate the terms for trade agreements under the new EU procedure. Under the current system, thirteen Third Countries are recognized: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United States of America and New Zealand;

Certifiers: where there is not a trade agreement, the Commission will establish a list of recognized control bodies/authorities that will be authorized to perform controls and certification in Third Countries. The EU regulation will be implemented identically within the EU and outside the EU. Some flexibility will be allowed for the use of plant protection products and/or fertilizers traditionally used in Third Countries.

IFOAM EU has put together an overview on what the new Organic Regulation will change for organic farmers, processors & certifiers: IFOAM EU