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Food Safety

Future of EU rules on plant and forest reproductive material

Current legislation

The current EU legislation on plant and forest reproductive material (PRM legislation) has proven its success in guaranteeing the identity, performance, quality and health of all PRM. Moreover, it has contributed to fostering an internationally competitive PRM industry. However, as it partly dates back to the ‘60s, the Commission is revising the legislation, with the aim to modernise it and to better align it with the goals of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork, Biodiversity, new EU Forest and EU Adaptation Strategies. The revision will seek for the legislation to be implemented in a more harmonised way across the EU, efficient and effective, more open to integrating new and future developments, and to contribute to sustainability goals, the protection of biodiversity and adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change.

Council request

In 2019, the Council (Council Decision (EU) 2019/1905) requested the Commission under Article 241 TFEU to provide a study on the Union's options to update the existing legislation on the production and marketing of plant reproductive material ('PRM study'). Furthermore, the Council called on the Commission to prepare a legal proposal, if deemed appropriate in view of the outcome of the PRM study.

The Commission followed up on the request of the Council with the PRM study and a letter to the Council.

PRM study

The PRM study concluded that the current PRM legislation functions very well but that it is outdated. It has confirmed the continued relevance of certain key problems identified in the previous evaluation of the PRM legislation that was carried out in 2007 – 2008. The PRM study has also identified new challenges. In the past decade, there have been numerous new technical developments in the breeding and seed production sector and the forest reproductive material sector, which can only be partially addressed or not addressed at all, with the tools of the existing PRM legislation. This development has been accompanied by a growing demand for sustainability in agriculture and the increasing need to support conservation of agro-biodiversity and adaptation to climate change. The PRM legislation needs to be aligned with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy to ensure sustainable agri-food production, long-term food security and adaptation to changing climatic and environmental conditions.

The PRM study has been published as a Staff Working Document. An Executive Summary is also available. The study is supported by an analysis that has been carried out by an external contractor. EU Member States and EEA competent authorities, industry representatives and Farmers' organisations, civil society organisations, PRM experts, and the wider public were consulted for the preparation of the PRM study. Based on the findings of the PRM study, the Commission decided to present legislative proposals for the revision of the PRM legislation by the end of 2022.

Inception impact assessment

The Commission informed stakeholders and the public about its plans to revise the legislation on plant and forest reproductive material through the publication of an inception impact assessment on Have your say. The inception impact assessment identifies possible options for this revision. It was available for public feedback from 15 June until 13 July 2021 and 66 comments were received (Fig. 1).

Overview of replies received

Figure 1: Overview of replies received Sixty-six stakeholders from 13 Member States and one third country provided comments.

Comments received outside of "Have your say":

Impact assessment

To support the preparation of the revision of the PRM legislation, an impact assessment will be carried out. This will further refine and detail the policy options identified in the inception impact assessment to deal with the problems identified by the PRM study and meet the objectives set. The Commission will be supported by the external contractor ICF, who will work on gathering and assessing data on the impacts of different policy options.

Consultation activities

Evidence to inform the proposal for the revision of the PRM legislation will be collected by means of a public consultation as well as several other consultation activities that ICF will carry out. These include a mix of open consultations and targeted interviews and with key stakeholders in order to engage with them and seek their opinion on main policy approaches and how they would be impacted by them (Table 1).

Table 1: Envisaged timeline of execution of consultation activities.

Dates

Activity

Description of activities

November 2021

Interviews with key stakeholders

The external contractor conducted 6 exploratory interviews with key stakeholders; competent authorities, industry associations, farmers’ associations, civil society organisations and an EU level organisation representing non-forestry uses of FRM.

January – March 2022

Public Consultation

Deadline 27 March

The Commission will gather feedback from the public and stakeholders on the proposed revisions to the PRM legislation.

The feedback received is available on Have your say

March - April 2022

Targeted surveys, interviews and focus groups

The external contractor will gather expert feedback through consultation of stakeholders.

The targeted survey was launched on 3 March and closed on 1 April. A validation survey by the contractor to assess the validity of key findings was initially planned for May 2022 but it has been cancelled.

End of 2022

Legal proposals

Commission will adopt its proposals for the revision of the PRM legislation. The proposals will be accompanied by an impact assessment.

Question and Answers

Some questions frequently asked in this subject area.