Twentieth Report of Session 2019–21 Contents

5Organic products43

This EU document is politically important because:

  • it will apply in Northern Ireland under the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol;
  • it will, along with the overarching organic products Regulation, apply from 1 January 2022 at the latest and will create, therefore, divergence between Great Britain on the one hand and the EU and Northern Ireland on the other soon after the transition period; and
  • it is in an area (organic products) identified by the Government as requiring particular arrangements under the future relationship.

Action

  • Report to the House.
  • Draw to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU and the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Overview

5.1From 1 January 2022 at the latest, a new EU Regulation governing the production and labelling of organic products will apply.44 While it was due to apply from 1 January 2021, the Commission has proposed45 a one-year extension to assist preparations. Under the terms of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland (NI) will need to apply the Regulation, but the rest of the UK will not. The legal default in Great Britain (GB) will be the current EU regulatory framework,46 enshrined as “EU retained law” and so, in the absence of appropriate amendments to that law, Great Britain will be divergent from 1 January 2022. To manage future trade between the EU and NI on the one hand and GB on the other, the Government seeks some form of “equivalence” agreement “broadly similar” to that currently in place between the EU and Chile.

5.2The letter dated 15 June 2020 from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Victoria Prentis MP) responds to our request for further information concerning the proposed arrangements for this sector from the end of the Transition Period. The Minister expresses the Government’s confidence that an equivalence arrangement can be agreed with the EU under the terms of the new EU Regulation. It is too early, says the Minister, to elaborate on future regulatory changes as considerable analysis and consultation will be required before any such changes can be proposed. She recognises, though, the need for cooperation among the Devolved Administrations concerning future policy in this area and notes that a “Four Nations Working Group” has been set up to that end. Work is underway to consider specifically the impact on Northern Ireland of the requirement to maintain alignment with EU regulation.

Action

5.3The Minister has addressed our queries as far as she is able at this stage. We have no further queries, but we draw the Minister’s response to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and the Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU.


43 Commission Delegated Regulation of 13 January 2020 amending Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 as regards certain detailed production rules for organic products; 5227/20 + ADD 1, C(2020) 51; Legal base: Regulation (EU) 2018/848; Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Devolved Administrations: Consulted; ESC number: 41039.

44 Regulation (EU) 2018/848 (as amended) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007. The main differences between the existing and new frameworks are summarised by the European Commission: “The future of organics“.

45 COM(20) 483 Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on organic production as regards its date of application and certain other dates referred to in that Regulation

46 Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91.




Published: 16 September 2020