The European Union has announced the introduction of a new electronic certification system governing imports of organic products.
Following its formal implementation on April 19th, the e-certification system will help to enhance food safety provisions and reduce potential fraud, while also reducing the administrative burden for operators and authorities and offering more comprehensive statistical data on organic imports.
The introduction of this system will necessitate the addition of new import certificates into the Trade Control & Expert System (TRACES), the existing EU electronic infrastructure for tracking movements of food products across the EU.
It will augment the existing benefits of TRACES, which has been shown to facilitate trade by offering businesses and authorities 24/7 access to information on the movements of consignments, speeding up administrative procedures and facilitating rapid reaction to potential health threats.
This new e-certification system has been implemented following recommendations from the European Court of Auditors and a request from member states to address persistent concerns about the system in place for monitoring the movements of organic products, as well as the consistency of import checks.
A six-month transition period has now commenced, during which both paper and e-certification can be used. When this period concludes on October 19th, EU organic imports will be covered by e-certification alone.
EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan said: "Our commitment to stringent certification and inspection measures is an important component in the EU's food safety standards.
These high standards have allowed us to become the best address for food in the world, but we must always strive to find new and better ways to do even more. These new rules will improve the traceability of organic products, which is an important growing market."