EU okays organic imports from Norway and Iceland
The harmonisation brings to an end an eight-year delay during which manufacturers and producers of organic products in Norway and Iceland were complying with outdated rules that were no longer being applied within the Union by member states.
The EU’s original rules on organic production and labelling date back to 1991 but these were made stricter in 2007 while tighter rules on organic aquaculture production came into force again in 2009.
Producers within the EU had to comply in January 2015 but there was a delay in integrating them to the European Economic Area agreement. The European Economic Area (EEA) unites the EU member states and non-EU countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway into an internal market governed by the same basic rules.
“[This] created a situation of unfair treatment of producers and operators,” said a statement by the Commission.
The discrepancy in the rules on aquaculture hit Norwegian producers of organic salmon in particular.
Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan welcomed the decision, saying: "I am happy to see that our EEA partners realised the importance of common standards, and the benefits they bring to producers and consumers on both sides.
“The rules guarantee a level playing field between EU and EEA organic producers, for their mutual benefit. The Commission will never accept any watering down of our high standards for products being produced, imported and marketed as organic. It is our role to ensure consumer confidence and guarantee the credibility of the EU organic logo."
The decision takes effect tomorrow (18 March).