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EU takes additional measures for agriculture and organic food
Fostering organic farming
of fostering the organic farming sector by introducing a compulsory EU organic
logo was backed by the EU member states in 2007. In order to find an original
design for this logo, the Commission organised a competition in 2009 in which
more than 3 400 designers took part, and a public vote on the best 3 designs in
early 2010; hence the one (see picture below) was adopted.
EU consumption of organic products has seen a steady rise in recent years and now accounts for roughly 2% of the EU market. Production has also increased considerably in the past decade – with roughly 5% of EU agricultural area and more than 2% of farms (more than 200 000 farms) now certified as organic.
The EU organic logo is fully applicable from 1 July 2012. The two-year transition period for the organic food sector to comply with new EU labelling rules is reaching its end. As from 1 July 2012, the EU organic logo will be obligatory on all pre-packaged organic food products produced in EU member states which meet the necessary standards. The logo will stay optional for non-packed and imported organic products. Other private, regional or national logos will continue to be allowed to appear alongside the EU label.
Towards food security
The "Euro-leaf" EU organic logo was initially introduced in July 2010, but in order to help operators adapt to the new rules, and to avoid waste of existing packaging, a 2-year transition period was allowed before it was compulsory on all products. The visual field of the logo should also show the code number of the control body and the place of farming of the agricultural raw materials.
A recent Euro-Barometer report on "European Attitude towards Food Security, Food Quality and the Countryside', to be published shortly, includes information on the EU organic logo and provides the encouraging indication that, since its introduction in July 2010, the logo has already gained recognition among a quarter (24%) of EU citizens.
On the occasion of official logo’s “introduction”, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Dacian Cioloş said that the EU’s intention was to transfer the EU logo into a “widely recognised symbol of organic food production across the EU”.
The logo would provide consumers with confidence that the goods are produced in-line with the strict EU organic farming standards, added the Commissioner.
Reference: Press Release, IP/12/706, 28 June 2012.
In agro-policy terms, already in 2012 there have been reached several agreements on rules on organic wine, which enter into force on August 1 (IP/12/113). In February 2012, the EU also signed an organic equivalence agreement with the USA, which will reduce bureaucracy for organic producers in the EU and the USA (IP/12/138). In May 2012, the Commission presented a report on the existing organic farming regulation, aimed at opening an inter-institutional debate with all EU stakeholders and thus creating the opportunity to explore new ways in which to further improve the EU organic policy framework.
For further information on the EU organic logo, see:
Promoting quality agriculture
At the same time, the EU made decisions to support the promotion of agricultural products in Europe and in third countries- € 35,9 million was allocated for these purposes. On 28 June, 2012, the European Commission has approved in Brussels 20 programs to promote agricultural products in the European Union and in third countries. The total budget of the programs, which will run for a period of three years, is € 70.7 million of which the EU will contribute € 35.9 million.
The selected programs cover fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, milk and milk products, PDOs (Protected Designations of Origin), PGIs (Protected Geographical Indications) and TSGs (Traditional Specialties Guaranteed), seed oil, wine and meat.
Within the information and promotion scheme, the Commission services received by mid-February 2012, 41 programs targeting the internal market and third countries. Out of those, 20 programs were selected through an evaluation procedure for co-financing, out of which 17 target the internal market and 3 target third countries. Four of the selected programs were proposed by more than one member state, while third country programs aim at the Chinese, Norwegian, Russian, Swiss, Ukrainian and the North American markets.
The full list of programs and budgets adopted is available at: ec.europa.eu/agriculture.
In 2000 the Council decided that the EU could assist in financing measures that provide information on or promote agricultural products and food on the EU single market and in third countries. The total annual budget available for these promotion programs is around €55 million.
measures financed can consist of public relations, promotional or publicity
campaigns, in particular highlighting the advantages of EU products, especially
in terms of quality, food safety and hygiene, nutrition, labelling, animal
welfare or environmentally-friendly production methods.
These measures can also cover participation at events and fairs, information campaigns on the EU system of protected designations of origin (PDO), protected geographical indications (PGI) and traditional specialties guaranteed (TSG), information on EU quality and labelling systems and organic farming, and information campaigns on the EU system of quality wines produced in specified regions (QWPSR).
The EU finances up to 50% of the cost of these measures (up to 60% in programs promoting the consumption of fruit and vegetables by children or concerning information on responsible drinking and the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption), the remainder being met by the professional/inter-branch organisations which proposed them and in some cases also by the Member States concerned.
For promotion on the single market and in third countries, interested professional organisations can submit their proposals to member states twice a year; the latter then send the list of programs they have selected to the Commission along with a copy of each program. Subsequently the Commission evaluates the programs and decides whether they are eligible.
Reference: Press Release, IP/12/711, 28 June 2012