The European Union (EU) organic farming rules cover agricultural products, including aquaculture and yeast. They encompass every stage of the production process, from seeds to the final processed food. This means that there are specific provisions covering a large variety of products, such as
- seeds and propagating material such as cuttings, rhizome etc. from which plants or crops are grown,
- living products or products which do not need further processing,
- products with multiple ingredients or processed agricultural products for use as food.
Producing organically means respecting the rules on organic farming. These rules are designed to promote environment protection, maintain the biodiversity of Europe and build consumer trust in organic products.
The EU rules on Organic Production (OP), considering the experience gained for the application of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, identified several points of improvement, in order to correspond to the high expectations of consumers, and to clarify the products concerned by the Regulation. Therefore Regulation (EC) No 834 will be repealed and replaced from the 1st of January 2021 by the new Regulation (EC) No 2018/848.
The new Regulation is in the same spirit, but the main changes are:
- Details of production rules,
- Introduction of group of operators in the EU,
- (Physical) inspection of operators every 2 years under certain conditions,
- In third countries (outside EU), transition from the current equivalency recognition to compliance recognition.
For the above reasons, accreditations granted to control bodies for control of Organic Production shall be updated. After discussions with the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission (DG AGRI), the EA Certification Committee (CC) Working Group (WG) Food proposes to the EA Certification Committee to harmonize as follows the transition of accreditation:
- Transition on national level
Before the 1st of January 2021, each National Accreditation Body (NAB) shall contact its National Competent Authority to define the assessments of accreditation performed before updating accreditation certificate and the date to refuse application for the Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007.
- Transition between Equivalency and Compliance approach
If a Certification Body accredited for OP in third countries for the recognition on equivalency (relating to Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2008), it can apply a transfer of its accreditation to be recognised in purpose of compliance.
In this case, the NAB shall perform a document review, and at least one on-site assessment before granting accreditation for compliance. Witnessing is not mandatory for transitioning.
Any accreditation granted for the current equivalency approach shall be upheld until the end of the legal transition period of the new regulation (see below).
- Expiration of equivalency recognition
The recognition of equivalency will expire on 31st of December 2023. Specific provisions will be discussed to harmonize practices between NABs during this period.
As a result, EA-3/12 EA Policy for the Accreditation of Organic Production Certification will be revised by the EA CC WG Food, with NABs delivering organic farming accreditation, and by a representative of DG AGRI. To consider the new Regulation (EU) 2018/848, it is intended that this document shall enter into force the 1st of January 2021.
EA-3/12 considers discussions about the accreditation cycle or duration performed for management systems certification. Sometimes, this document could be redundant with ISO/IEC 17011:2017 – Conformity assessment — Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies. Nevertheless, the European Commission and the market need insurance and demonstration that all EA NABs apply properly this standard in regards with organic regulations.