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New EU Plant Health Rules

In October 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests (“Plant Health Law”).

On 13 December 2016, the Regulation entered into force and will be applicable from 14 December 2019.

These rules constitute the EU Plant Health Regime, which has been in place since 1977 and was fully reviewed by the European Commission in May 2013.

The new rules aim to modernise the plant health regime, enhancing more effective measures for the protection of the Union’s territory and its plants. They also aim to ensure safe trade, as well as to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the health of our crops and forests. Different stakeholders will benefit from this new approach:

  • Citizens: better protection of landscapes and forests, public and private green spaces, reduced need for pesticide use;
  • Growers and farmers: simpler and more transparent documentation (plant passport), better protection of their production, more financial support for fighting pests;
  • Other business operators: common operators’ register, harmonised traceability;
  • Public authorities: EU financial support for the implementation of surveillance and eradication/containment measures.

Several delegated and implementing acts will be adopted by the Commission by 2019 to ensure the correct implementation of the legislation across EU Member States. The Commission will duly consult Member States’ experts, the European Parliament and the Council, as well as other relevant stakeholders during the drafting of these acts, in line with the principles of better regulation.

Regulated plants

From 14 December 2019, all plants (including living parts of plants) will need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate to enter into the EU, unless they are listed in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 as exempted from this general requirement (not requiring to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate). Currently, the list of plants exempted from the obligation to carry a phytosanitary certificate from 14 December 2019 are the following fruits: pineapples, coconuts, durians, bananas and dates.

High risk plants

The Plant Health Law increases the prevention against the introduction of new pests via imports from third countries. Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 establishes the list of high risk plants the introduction of which into the EU territory will be provisionally prohibited from 14 December 2019 until a full risk assessment has been carried out.

The rules concerning the procedure to be followed in order to carry out the risk assessment of high risk plants are detailed in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2018.

Priority pests

Article 6(2) of the Plant Health Law empowers the Commission to establish a list of the priority pests. Published in the Official Journal on 11 October 2019, the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1702 lists 20 quarantine pests as priority pests, including Xylella fastidiosa, the Japanese beetle, the Asian long-horned beetle, Citrus greening and Citrus Black Spot, whose economic, environmental and social impact on EU territory is the most severe.

The selection of those pests is based on an assessment carried out by the Commission’s Joint Research Centreand the European Food Safety Authority, which takes into account the probability of spreading, establishment and consequences of those pests for the Union.

Views of a dedicated Experts Group and public feedback provided via the Better Regulation portal were also taken into account.

For these specific pests, Member States will have to adopt enhanced provisions: information campaigns to the public in case they are present in their territory, implement  annual surveys, prepare contingency plans, simulation exercises and action plans for eradication.

Source: European Commission