EU Organic Regulation: trilogue called off unexpectedly
Until Monday evening, when the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) met, some of the negotiators thought agreement was imminent and that the negotiations on the new EU law would be concluded. That's not the way it turned out: the final trilogue meeting, arranged for Wednesday, was cancelled. The participants reacted in different ways.
18 states opposed carrying on
A clear majority in the Special Committee voted on Monday against continuing the revision and this was the reason why the planned final trilogue was called off. The German Federation of the Organic Food Industry (BÖLW) pointed out that Germany voted once again in favour of continuing the discussions. The chair of this organic umbrella organisation, Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, said: “18 of the 27 EU states have shown the negotiations on the new Organic Regulation the red card. The states know that concluding a legislative procedure doesn't mean in all cases it's a success.” He explained that in particular the rules regarding controls were criticised because they would produce a mass of data without making organics any safer.
Löwenstein is calling for Minister of Agriculture Schmidt to finally take action to terminate the legislative process that has been running for nearly three and a half years with no tangible outcome. He appealed to the Green's rapporteur in the European Parliament, Martin Häusling, “not to stick to concluding these bungled negotiations at any price.”
Häusling disappointed at lost opportunity
From Häusling's point of view, however, it means the opportunity to reach agreement is lost: “It's wholly regrettable that the EU Council was not in a position to give the Maltese Council Presidency a mandate to bring the negotiations with the EU Parliament and the EU Commission to a good conclusion.” He said that last week positive signals had come from the meeting of ministers in Malta. “I expect the Council will now explain via the Council Presidency what conclusions it draws from the vote.”
Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and rapporteur Martin Häusling stated recently that negotiations on about 90 percent of the new EU Organic Regulation have been completed. In the last few days Häusling was confident, saying that “in the eighteenth trilogue between Commission, Council and Parliament agreement can be reached.”
BÖLW: no discernible genuine added value
In the opinion of German organic associations the proposed organic legislation is difficult to implement because of the many inconsistencies running through it. Important points are still in need of clarification - for example, how to improve applying controls in third countries and to harmonise procedures when the issue is the organic status of goods within the EU.
“The Organic Regulation is a law that food manufacturers, traders and farmers submit to voluntarily. It has to be a sound piece of legislation so that organic can fulfil its function as a problem solver in the environmental crisis, as a stimulus for more employment in rural areas and for more healthy nutrition,” maintains Peter Röhrig from BÖLW. “For this reason, everyone should focus on one issue: either we get what is really an improved organic law or we've got to start again.” The negotiations in the last few weeks have not revealed any genuine added value in the new law. “On the contrary, absurd proposals are still being discussed that would be a hindrance to organic. That's why breaking off the discussions is the best option,” says Röhrig.
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