Delaying new European Union (EU) rules on producing and labelling organic products by one year would give farmers and national authorities preoccupied with the effects of the pandemic more time to adjust.

This was the reaction of the chair of the EU Agriculture Committee, Norbert Lins, to the EU Commission’s proposal to postpone the application of the new EU organic law.

He explained:

I am happy that the commission followed parliament’s lead and proposed postponement of entry into application of the new organic rules.

“This will give the EU’s executive more time to properly consult all stakeholders before drafting the secondary legislation, which is essential to make new organic rules work on the ground.

“This will allow both co-legislators to thoroughly scrutinise the complex system of delegated and implementing acts.”

‘Rushing would do more harm than good’

Lins continued:

“Rushing through the approval of the secondary legislation, when farmers are preoccupied with tackling the effects of Covid-19, would do more harm than good.

Postponing the entry into application of the Organic Regulation from January 1, 2021, to  January 1, 2022, is the only feasible option that would give member states and operators enough time to make a successful transition to the new and better system of organic production.

“The commission has showed today that it cares about improving our organic production. I can say that the Agriculture Committee will do its utmost to ensure that this proposal is quickly adopted,” Lins concluded.

Background to the new law

The parliament approved the new EU organic law in April 2018. According to the EU, the new rules, due to become applicable in January 2021, should boost organic production and ensure that only high-quality organic food is sold in the EU.

The new EU organic law needs to be underpinned by secondary legislation to be operational.

Due to delays in the process of preparing delegated and implementing acts, caused by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Agriculture Committee Chair Lins asked European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski in May to postpone the application of the new organic law until January 2022.

The proposal tabled by the commission needs to be approved by both the parliament and the council to enter into force.