Brexit update on organic certification - September 2020

Brexit update on organic certification - September 2020

Anticipated changes to certification requirements for businesses trading organic goods with companies in the EU

Businesses buying or selling goods direct between the UK and EU are not currently regarded as importers. Unless there is a EU/UK trade deal that includes mutual recognition of organic products and no requirement for port checks, it’s anticipated that from 2021, importers of organic goods in both the UK and EU will need to ensure the scope of their organic certification includes ‘importing’ as an enterprise.

From the beginning of next year, anyone trading directly between the UK and EU - without using an intermediary importer that’s already certified to handle organic products - is likely to need their own organic certification. If you plan to import organic goods from the EU into the UK from January 2021, we recommend contacting your certification body to ensure you have the correct certification. This requirement may also extend to your EU customers that import goods from the UK.

Important EU trading survey

As we approach the end of the implementation period, it’s becoming increasingly likely that both EU exporters to the UK, and UK exporters to the EU, will be required to have Certificates of Inspection (COI’s) for all consignments of organic goods. For goods bound for the UK, this is anticipated to be a paper-based certificate. For goods bound for the EU, producers or exporters will need to register on TRACESNT for endorsement of their consignment by their certifier.

In order to help both certifiers and the UK government ensure there are sufficient resources to manage the increased number of COI’s that will need to be processed, it’s now vitally important that we establish the likely quantities of consignments of organic products travelling between the UK and the EU from January 2021.

Even if you do not sell to - or buy from - the EU, we’re asking all organic food & drink clients to complete our short EU trading survey to help us establish the number of licensees trading with the EU, and where they do, the volume and frequency of trade in both directions.

This short survey will be hugely beneficial for our planning to ensure we can be as prepared as possible.

Delay to implementation of the EU regulation EC2018/848

On the 4th September, alongside the proposed forward-thinking EU Organic Action Plan (which is now open for public consultation), the Commission published a proposal to delay the implementation of the EU Organic Regulation 2018/848 by 12 months. This is welcomed across Europe to allow for further discussion to finalise the many technical requirements that have still not been agreed, and to allow sufficient time to ensure operators can adapt, where necessary, to meet the new rules.

This will also potentially simplify procedures for continuing to export product to Northern Ireland (as part of the Northern Irish protocol) from the UK after the end of the UK exit transition period on the 1st January, especially if there is no trade deal in place by that time (this article we published in March 2020 provides more info on UK standards from 2021).

The proposed delay in implementation still needs to be agreed by the EU Parliament and Member States before it’s finalised. However, given that both the Parliament and Member States invited the Commission to make this proposal, we believe it’s very likely that they’ll approve the proposed delay in implementation until January 2022.

Sector letter to UK Chief Negotiator, Lord Frost

Drafted with the support of Soil Association Certification and supported by more than 30 organisations representing the UK organic food and drink sector, a letter has been written to Chief UK Negotiator, Lord Frost, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, expressing deep concern about the future of trade and certification of organic products between the UK and the EU.

The letter warns of the likely additional administrative burden on certifiers and businesses alike, should the UK fail to reach a trade agreement with the EU, to include mutual recognition of organic products that meet the UK and EU organic regulation organic acceptance by the end of 2020.

Further information

As we gain additional clarity on the requirements for future international trading and labelling of organic goods, we will continue to keep our Brexit Hub updated. As we head into the autumn, we plan to host a series of Brexit webinars. You can find details of these webinars on our Events page.