EU grants market access for UK organics sector for additional 12 months

The European Union has recognised the contributions of the UK organics sector, ensuring that UK organic products will have continued access to EU markets after the Brexit transition period ends.
calendar icon 7 December 2020
clock icon 6 minute read

Recognition by the EU of the UK’s organic sector will ensure continued access to vital EU and Northern Irish markets and bring certainty to producers, the National Farmers Union said.

The European Commission’s decision will mean that the UK’s six organic certification bodies will be recognised for 12 months following the end of the EU Exit transition period.

NFU organic forum chair Andrew Burgess said: “Exports to the EU have and always will be an important part of the UK organic supply chain and to be able to continue to export to that key market from January is a huge relief.

“While not the full mutual equivalency we have been pressing for, this decision should offer short-term certainty for those organic businesses who’ve been concerned over losing access to this valuable market.

“UK organic mutual equivalence with the EU is something the UK government has been seeking to be included as a technical annex within the draft Free Trade Agreement text currently being negotiated. We hope that an agreement is reached which mutually recognises the UK and EU as having equivalent organic standards to provide more long-term certainty for the organics sector.”

The UK's Organic Farmers & Growers group chairman Roger Kerr said:

"OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers) welcomes the news of the recognition of all six UK organic control bodies by the EU. This will allow UK organic produce to continue to be traded across European markets next year, which would otherwise have been closed to the sector from 1 January 2021.

"However, uncertainty remains as the recognition fails to address the regulatory status beyond the end of 2021 as new EU organic regulation comes into effect on 1 January 2022.

“This is a short-term gain for the industry and the news will be a relief to the organic sector that’s been living with uncertainty for so long. But it still doesn’t deliver the robust national organic equivalency agreement between the UK and EU we’re calling for.

“We would anticipate that this would avoid the need for label changes and could mean that the requirement for certificates of inspection can be avoided once there’s an agreement. This would be of significant benefit to operators.”

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