After failing to reach an agreement on reforms in the organic sector earlier this month, Council Ministers struck a compromise on the most controversial aspects of the proposals yesterday, 16 June.
These controversial aspects were decertification thresholds due to the presence of non-authorised substances in organic food and the frequency of controls on organic farms.
The compromise proposed on the first issue was that Member States should have the option of applying their own existing rules on thresholds for pesticide residues for decertifying organic products until 31 December 2021. This was fine-tuned in the presence of Ministers yesterday so that the expiry date for this autonomy was shortened to the end of 2020.
A qualified majority voted in favour of the compromise, with a small minority of countries voting against it.
As for the inspections, most Member States voted in favour of the compromise which would allow inspections to be targeted over two years for compliant or low-risk organic producers.
After months of opposition to the reform plan, Commissioner Phil Hogan said the common position paves a way for negotiations with MEPs in the autumn, with hopes of a deal by the year's end.
Latvian Farm Minister Janis Duklavs acknowledged some delegations "might be disappointed by as not all the requests have been taken on board", but added "the time had come for a last chance to support the compromise text."