Europe approves organic reform, Belgium abstains

Europe approves organic reform, Belgium abstains

The European Commission approved new legislation to simplify organic agriculture in Europe. It will be enacted in July 2020. There was no agreement among Belgian politicians, which is why Belgium abstained.

Tarnished credibility

Organic agriculture is no longer in its infancy and is also no longer the traditional agriculture’s younger brother, according to the European Commission. It has now created a legal framework to guide and simplify the policies revolving around organic agriculture. Walloon Minister of Agriculture, René Collin, fears these new regulations will tarnish the organic industry’s credibility.  

 

“The strict application of the 2007 legislation is the reason why we were able to win the Walloon consumer’s trust”, he said after the Belgian abstention during the vote. “If we turn back organic farmers’ checks from once a year to once every two years, the industry will lose its credibility.” The tolerance of chemical trails in organic products is also something that Wallonia does not like: whoever replaces organic with inorganic ingredients, can do that as long as it is “limited in time”. Collin feels this addition does not go far enough.

 

Level playing field for everyone

Flanders is in favour of the new legislation. The text also contains things Wallonia does like as well: Collin says it is a good thing that smaller farmers and agricultural companies can unite to get certification more rapidly and cheaper.

 

The rules will also apply to countries that supply European member states, countries that received about sixty equalities within the legislation. The same standards and rules will now apply to every agricultural and food-related producht with an “organic” label on any of the European markets.

 

Aside from Belgium, there were other countries that abstained, including Germany and Hungary. Six countries were against the new legislation, including Finland, Austria, Cyprus and several Eastern European countries. The new rules will be enforced from July 2020 onward.