EA has just published a new version of EA-3/12 EA Policy for the Accreditation of Organic Production Certification, which was revised by a Task Force Group (TFG) Updated accreditation of organic production certification of the EA Certification Committee (CC) Working Group (WG) Food, including National Accreditation Bodies (NABs) delivering organic farming accreditation, certification bodies involved and a representative of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) of the European Commission (EC).

Started in 2018, the revision was motivated by the replacement of Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007 related to organic production with Regulation (EC) No. 2018/848 on 1st January 2021, when the new EA-3/12 shall enter into force.

The EC regulations on organic farming cover agricultural products, including aquaculture and yeast, and encompass every stage of the production process, from seeds to the final processed food. Organic farming rules aim to promote environment protection, maintain the biodiversity of Europe and build consumer trust in organic products.

The main changes made in the new Regulation (EC) No. 2018/848 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.

The new EA-3/12 outlines EA’s policy for application of ISO/IEC 17011:  Conformity assessment — Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies when carrying out accreditation of certification bodies in the field of organic production according to Regulation (EC) No. 2018/848. The EC needs assurance and demonstration that all EA NABs properly understand ISO 17011 with regard to new organic farming regulations.

The TFG, convened by Sandrine Dupin (COFRAC, France), considered every modification made in Regulation (EC) No. 2018/848, especially about accreditation cycle or duration in regards with risk analysis performed for organic scheme, in order to update the accreditation process for certification of organic production. The TFG did its best to consider the feedback of all interested parties and to find innovative solutions, such as the number of witnesses based on risk analysis, a tool to calculate the duration of accreditation assessments, and more flexibility to assess locations wherever the activity is relevant and risky.

Further to discussions with DG AGRI, the TFG also harmonised the transition period of accreditation as follows:

  • Transition on national level
    Before the 1st of January 2021, each 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 organic production 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 harmonise practices between NABs during this period.

If some additional provisions related to the transition were decided by the EC, this arrangement could be revised and put forward to the EACC WG Food.

To conclude, EA has been supporting the evolution of European organic regulations through updating the document EA-3/12, which gives EA NABs tools for adapting every time’s  accreditation assessments to the context, the activity of Certification Bodies and the risk of fraud detected by the competent authorities.