New EU Organic Regulation: Guidelines & main changes

After a 10-year long process, the new EU Organic Regulation has started to apply on 1 January 2022. The basic Regulation (EU) 2018/848 was published in June 2018, while the secondary legislation has been developed in the following 2.5 years, with the last secondary regulations published on the EU Official Journal on 29 December 2021.

Guidelines to help operators navigate the legal labyrinth
So far, the secondary legislation consists of 15 Delegated Regulations and 7 Implementing Regulations. But others have to come in the next months. To help organic producers and traders, competent authorities and control bodies navigate these regulations, IFOAM Organics Europe has developed guidelines to the EU Organic Regulation.

This IT tool, free for our members, puts together relevant requirements for certain categories under one chapter. For example, if you are a poultry producer you will find all recitals, definitions and requirements relevant to your activities under one chapter, and you will not need to open 10 different regulations.

On the top of that, when the EU Organic Regulation refers to other EU legislations, links to these are provided as well

For more information on the tool, please refer to our website. IFOAM Organics Europe members find login details on our member extranet. Contact organicregulation@organicseurope.bio for more information and/or to sponsor the guidelines.

Main changes the EU Organic Regulation brings
Below you can read the main changes of the new EU Organic Regulation. Please consider that many others are not in this summary. For a complete overview, we refer you to the guide we mention above.

Main changes on production

  • The scope has been enlarged and now includes products closely linked to agriculture such as beeswax, sea salt, wool and others;
  • The concept of soil-bound cultivation is strengthened – with a few exceptions;
  • In relation to plant reproductive material (e.g., seed), the use of heterogeneous material and varieties adapted to organic farming is incentivized;
  • Rules for poultry have been integrated with additional requirements, e.g., on pop-holes and limits to the multi-level systems. Rules for parent poultry and pullets as well as for rabbits and deer have been added;
  • Where there are changes which require structural interventions, transitional rules are provided;
  • On aquaculture, the possibility of using non-organic juveniles is very limited.

Main changes on the food processing side

  • The use of natural flavourings is restricted to few categories and rules for organic flavourings are established;
  • The use of ion exchange and adsorption resin techniques is only allowed for baby food and wine products;
  • Engineered nanomaterials are also banned;
  • The flexibility regarding the origin of the ingredients for the indication of origin passes from 2% to 5%;
  • After a transitional period, there will be a list of cleaning and disinfection products allowed to be used in food processing and storage.

Main changes on control and certification

  • Low-risk operators will be exempted from the mandatory physical inspection visit, that can be performed every 24 months. In any case, a verification of compliance is required every 12 months. Such exemption applies only to operators in the EU. As for the certificate, there are mandatory models to be followed, for both EU and non-EU operators. New approaches for dealing with suspected non-compliances and residues are established, for both operators and control actors;
  • New rules for group certification are established and are very detailed with some significant changes for operators in the Global South;
  • The group certification system may be applied also for small farmers in the EU and worldwide. According to the previous regulation, group certification was only possible for countries in the Global South.

Main changes on international trade and imports

The current equivalency agreements with 14 Third Countries have to be renegotiated under the form of Trade Agreements within 5 years. The control bodies recognised for the purpose of equivalency need to be recognised for the purpose of compliance within 3 years. In practice it means that the requirements of the New EU Organic Regulation will apply in Third Countries with a 1-1.5 year delay compared to the EU. Also, new rules at the EU borders for imported products apply.

For more information on the EU Organic Regulation and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on this issue, please contact emanuele.busacca@organicseurope.bio. Please note that we will only respond to our members’ requests.

For information about what you can gain from being a member, read our membership page and contact membership@organicseurope.bio.

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