In force from 19 April, the new EU electronic certificate system is now verifying all imported organic products. The rules have been laid down by an EU regulation 2016/1842 on the electronic certificate of inspection for imported organic products and promise to reduce potential fraud and the administrative burden for operators and authorities, as well as providing more comprehensive data on the goods. While, for the moment, both paper and electronic versions are still accepted, importers will be obliged to file only electronic certificates in six months’ time, from 19 October.
Speaking to GlobalMeatNews, a Commission official said the key new requirement of this pioneering system was adding organic certificates into the EU system for tracking movements of food products, TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System). This enables the authorities responsible for granting and updating organic food import rights to easily track the movements of controlled products at any time, react rapidly to irregularities and reduce the risk of shipments being rejected at EU ports.
Within the EU, the responsibility for ensuring this electronic paperwork is completed will lay on the shoulders of importers, distributors and their regulators. Importers can initiate the certificate and tick the boxes for the other operators, but the first consignee needs to handle the final step, confirm that the products have been well-received and meet the requirements.
Speaking to the secretary general of the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), Jean-Luc Mériaux, it is clear Europe’s organic meat import sector needs all the help it can get. The organic animal sector is developing at a fast pace in the EU, but organic meat imported from countries outside the EU, the European Economic Area (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland is currently very much a niche trade.
The new system may help boost confidence that organic meat imports are indeed organic by refusing to issue an e-certificate to unregistered bodies and products that are not covered by their declarations. Upon entry into the EU, and before granting a certificate, import authorities have to carry out checks and endorse inspection papers before the goods go to Customs and then move into free circulation. With the new system, any irregularities are communicated digitally immediately to competent authorities, the exporting country and the European Commission. Certificate providers with a high record of non-conformity will be withdrawn from the list of recognised authorities.
Read the rules HERE.