The EU Commission has approved regulation to recognise the UK’s 6 organic Control Bodies as certifying to an equivalent EU standard until 31 December 2021, for the purpose of trade in organics. This means that they can use the EU organic leaf logo on their products.
The announcement which was shared on the Defra blog will put an end to to the immediate uncertainty in the organic sector.
Defra also confirmed that a GB Certificate of Inspection (COI) will not be required on certified organic produce entering GB from the EU and certain other countries from 1 January 2021. These will be required from 1July 2021. They further clarified that:
All imports from third countries, except from the EU, EEA and Switzerland, must be accompanied by a GB Certificate of Inspection (CoI) from 1 January 2021.
Defra are implementing this phased approach to endorsing EU COIs to reduce unnecessary barriers to trade.
By 1 July 2021, all EU organic exporters must be certified by a control body and the control body must issue the COI for export to GB.
Guidance on trading and labelling organic food from 1 January 2021 is here on the Defra website.
This is a significant change and Defra decided to waive this requirement to reduce the risk of delays at the ports and resultant spoiled food. This decision is in line with other phased approaches which are designed to simplify import procedures in the short term.
Food Minister, Victoria Prentis welcomed this decision, saying “This decision means the UK’s organic for and drink industry will have the certainty it needs to flourish after the end of the Transition Period.
Consumers at home and abroad will continue to bye able to buy and enjoy produce from our excellent organic farmers, food producers and processors.”
Roger Kerr (OTB director and member) responded to the announcement on behalf of the certifier OF&G saying: “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,”
Roger went on to say “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.”
During this week Defra is holding meetings for Stakeholders, and OTB members can access the presentation from these meetings here.