EU news – Post date: August 5th, 2020.

Emergency measures on paperless transmission of phytosanitary certificates extended

European Commission Regulation 2020/466 on “temporary measures to contain risks to human, animal and plant health and animal welfare during certain serious disruptions of Member States’ control systems due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)”, issued in March 2020 and prolonged on 28 May, will be further prolonged until 1 October 2020. The Standing Committee voted in a written procedure, which was finalised last week, and the final text is expected to be published by the end of July. Note that the measures can be implemented on a voluntary basis by Member States, and must be notified by the Member State to the Commission. It is recommended that checks are made with individual Member States to establish whether the provisions will be continued at the national level. The emergency measures will be subject to further review in September 2020.

EU Ombudsman questions pesticide authorisation process

According to an article in Le Monde (9 July), a preliminary report by European Ombudsman (médiatrice) Emily O’Reilly raises questions about the marketing authorisations for many pesticides granted in recent years by the European executive, particularly with regard to compliance with the precautionary principle. Authorisations are issued after a risk assessment conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), based on data provided by the company wishing to have its product registered. Where the data are incomplete, the Commission can authorise products using a “confirmatory data” request procedure: the substance is registered but additional information is requested from the company marketing it. The Ombudsman, responding to issues raised by the NGO Pesticide Action Network (PAN)-Europe, states that “Where EFSA has identified elements of critical concern or has failed to identify safe uses, it would seem reasonable that the Commission (…) should seek clarification from EFSA before approving the active substance in question.” In three of five situations analysed, this was not the case.

€15.5 million for 300 start-ups and SMEs in the Sahel

The European Union and Investors & Partners (I&P) announced on Friday the launch of I&P Acceleration in the Sahel (Commodafrica, 15 July). Deployed over four years, this €15.5 million programme will benefit some 300 start-ups and small businesses operating in 13 countries in the Sahel sub-region: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Togo and Senegal. Initially, 15 enterprises will benefit from financial and technical support. The unprecedented situation caused by the COVID-19 crisis has been taken into account and integrated into the programme so that specific support is provided to the companies most affected by the crisis. While the programme is of a generalist nature and will address all areas of the economy, the COVID-19 crisis has put the spotlight on certain sectors. Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of I&P, says “As for the food sector, it was already crucial before, but I believe that it is one of the subjects on which we will encounter even more issues than we imagined. There is a lot of talk about shortening production chains, about the growing importance given to the national and regional market. All this is a very positive element that reinforces the potential of African SMEs focusing on the development of short chains in the field of nutrition.”

Freshfel: Food Crisis Management Event

Freshfel Europe, in conjunction with ESSA, the European Sprouted Seeds Association, is organising a free public event on food crisis management on 2 September 2020. The online event will analyse former as well as hypothetical food crisis situations, the lessons learnt from them and best crisis response approaches. The event will provide a platform for agri-associations, food business operators, European Commission officials, representatives of EU national authorities and other stakeholders to gain knowledge through interaction and dialogue on how to respond to European food crises. The insights gained from this event will create a starting point for further development structures and coordination within private companies and sectorial associations.

Freshfel: EU & Member State Packaging Legislation

A Freshfel webinar on 22 July provided an overview of EU packaging developments over the past few months. Further webinars are planned for September-October. The webinar discussed Directive (EU) 2019/904 on reduction of certain plastic products on the environment (5 June 2019); the latest revision (Directive (EU) 2018/852) to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC); and the upcoming EU and Member State F&V sticker legislation.

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